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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part III  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 25 May 2011: Lot 15 

Lot 15

 
   

Lot 15
Treasury 5, no. 839

A sapphire-blue glass ‘peaches’ snuff bottle

(‘Imperial Peach’)

Transparent sapphire-blue glass with a few scattered small air bubbles, with a flat lip and flat foot; carved with a continuous design of a severed, leafy branch with two peaches growing from it
Imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1730-1790
Height: 5.1 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.56/1.5 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; gilt-silver collar

Lot 15 Provenance:
Private collection, Brazil
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., Hong Kong (1997)

Published:
Treasury 5, no. 839

Lot 15 Commentary
Although the peach shape of the bottle may be less than obvious, the small fruit on the severed branch is foliated with leaves typical of the peach tree, seen also on a nephrite brush washer in the National Palace Museum, for example. Although this design is rare in glass, another exists in yellow glass (suggesting a link with the court), several in white nephrite, and even one in tourmaline. The existence of a group of bottles, all of the same type but fashioned from different materials, with the same subject and of similar style, suggests a multi-skills environment such as the palace workshops, while the yellow glass example bears testimony to their imperial nature. While this would not completely rule out the possibility of hardstone bottles being carved for the court at a centre such as Suzhou, it seems unlikely, given the range of materials and the ready availability of local facilities for their production near the court.

This sapphire-blue glass, brilliant and pure, is typical of the finest from the imperial glassworks but exhibits no hint of crizzling, suggesting that it is neither from the Yongzheng period nor earlier. For the entire range of these peach bottles, in fact, a Qianlong date is suggested. It seems likely that very popular types, particularly plain bottles, might have been repeated over a long period, but specific designs such as this may have been shorter-lived.

 

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