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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part III  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 25 May 2011: Lot 40 

Lot 40

 
   

Lot 40
Treasury 6, no. 1270

A blue and white porcelain ‘dragon’ snuff bottle

(‘Short Pillar’)

Colourless glaze on cobalt on porcelain; with a slightly convex lip and slightly concave foot; painted under the glaze with a continuous design of an imperial five-clawed dragon in pursuit of a flaming pearl, the unglazed foot carved with concentric rings; the lip, inner neck, and interior glazed
Imperial kilns, Jingdezhen, 1780–1830
Height: 6.09 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.65/1.54 cm
Stopper: ivory; wood (zitan) collar

Lot 40 Provenance:
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd. (1985)

Published:
Treasury 6, no. 1270

Lot 40 Commentary
This is an extremely rare, reduced version of Sale 1, lot 134, sharing its qualities of precise painting and intensity, not to mention control of the underglaze cobalt-blue pigment. That does not mean the two bottles were produced at about the same time, however. We suspect that the entire group spanned a period from the second half of the Qianlong period into the early nineteenth century. It must be remembered that any two bottles may have been produced much closer together or much farther apart in time than one might think at first blush.

Appropriately for its size, this bottle includes only the essentials: a dragon and flaming pearl without clouds, waves, background design, or flames extraneous to the pearl.

The Blochs have, famously, collected miniatures alongside more standard sizes, raising the question of whether this one qualifies as a miniature. This one is not tiny by any means; in fact, it is a good deal taller than most palace enamels and many Suzhou agate bottles that are not classified as miniatures. Yet it is still a miniature in the sense that it is a reduced version of Sale 1, lot 134, which represents the more usual size for this form and design.

 

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