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The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part III  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 25 May 2011: Lot 10 

Lot 10

 
 

Lot 10
Treasury 7, no. 1506

A moulded gourd ‘Pekingese dog and doves’ snuff bottle

(‘Imperial Favourites’)

Gourd, black lacquer, and antler; with a flat lip and irregularly recessed, flat foot surrounded by an irregular, convex footrim; from a four-part primary mould, with a continuous scene of a Pekinese dog with bells on its collar, two doves, a perforated natural rock formation, chrysanthemums, orchids, and grasses, all beneath a shoulder band of continuous leiwen (thunder pattern); the foot inscribed in relief regular script Daoguang nian zhi (Made in the Daoguang period); the interior covered in black lacquer; the lip and a short inner neck in antler
Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, 1821–1850
Height: 4.68 cm
Mouth/lip: 1.59/2.72 cm
Stopper: horn and ivory, with a yinyang symbol surrounded by a series of inlaid dots

Lot 10 Provenance:
Raymond Li, Hong Kong (1976)
Belfort Collection (1986)

Published:
Li 1976, p. 20, no. 31
JICSBS, March 1976, p. 19
Hong Kong1977, pp. 110 and 130, no. 266
Jutheau 1980, p. 137, fig. 5
Très précieuses tabatières chinoises1982, p. 20, fig. 236
Li 1983, p. 21, fig. 24
Kleiner 1987, no. 201
Treasury 7, no. 1506

Exhibited:
Hong Kong Museum of Art, October 1977
L’Arcade Chaumet, Paris, June 1982
Sydney L. Moss Ltd, London, October 1987
Galeries Lafayette, Paris, April 1990
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993

Lot 10 Commentary
There can be no question as to the correct dating of this remarkable gourd snuff bottle. Not only is it decorated with a favourite subject of the Daoguang emperor, it also bears the reign mark. The emperor and his favourite consort were very fond of doves and Pekinese dogs respectively; see Sale 2, lot 50. Here we have a typical scene showing the dog with bells on his collar so that the doves get a little warning of an unprovoked attack. Even a favourite imperial concubine would hesitate to allow her pet to kill the emperor’s favourite birds, which he bred as a hobby.

This extremely unusual form for a gourd reflects a popular one from the first half of the nineteenth century, for which we have coined the name ‘snuff pots’. They are squat forms with unusually wide mouths (see discussion under Treasury 6, no. 1305) that became popular during the first half of the nineteenth century. There are also ceramic bottles known that are obviously copies of moulded gourds, although gourd examples from the particular mould that inspired them do not seem to have survived (see, for instance, Treasury 6, no. 1344). They also have Daoguang marks that are remarkably close to the idiosyncratic style of this one, with its distinctive, rather loose writing of the second character, and there can be no question that they were copied from existing gourd snuff bottles. For another gourd bottle datable to the Daoguang period by a similar design in pyrography, see Snuff Bottles of the Ch’ing Dynasty 1978, no. 134.

This type of stopper, many of which are known, appears to have been designed originally for these snuff pots, although they also appear on other types. With nonmatching stoppers, however, it is extremely difficult to judge what type was originally designed for which type of bottle, because they have been changed frequently over the years by owners, dealers, and collectors.

 

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