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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IV  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 November 2011: Lot 98 

Lot 98


Lot 98
Treasury 5, no.796 (‘Diamond-Cut Ruby’)

A multi-faceted ruby-red glass snuff bottle

Transparent ruby-red glass; with a flat lip and flat, octagonal foot; the body multi-faceted
Attributable to the imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1700-1750
Height: 6.23 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.8/1.32 cm
Stopper: glass; glass collar

Robert Kleiner (1991)

Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 71
Treasury 5, no.796

Hong Kong Museum of Art, March-June 1994
National Museum, Singapore, November 1994-February 1995

Once faceting became an established method of decorating glass, no great length of time would have elapsed before it occurred to the designers at court to facet a wide range of traditional Chinese forms. The shape of this example, basically an elongated ovoid, can also be seen as a modified meiping (‘prunus-blossom vase’), its surface covered with reasonably accurate flat facets of various shapes.

This ruby-glass is of great purity neither as a colour nor a material. The ruby fades to almost colourless glass in places, where the faceting is thinnest, and the material is full of air bubbles of various sizes whose structures suggest that the bottle was initially blown, a suggestion supported by its weight. It is reminiscent of some Yongzheng-marked glass in this colour range, and by the first half of the Qianlong reign, which some believe to represent the height of the art at court, it is clear that fine glass was combined with top quality workmanship across a wide range of colours. We believe that an imperial glassworks provenance is justified by such a combination of ruby-glass and faceting. The most likely date may be from the early eighteenth century, perhaps from the late Kangxi reign or the reign of the Yongzheng emperor up until 1727, when the emperor instructed the glassworks to confine themselves to Chinese styles. Both the wide mouth and very extensive wear offer indications of an early date. The entire surface has obviously been repolished at some point, although not very recently, but beneath the polish we see the remnants of an extensive earlier patination.

A related bottle, in sapphire-blue glass, was offered by Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 4 November 1996, lot 8.


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Hugh Moss |