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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IV  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 November 2011: Lot 88 

Lot 88


Lot 88
Treasury 5, no.747 (‘The Emperor’s Golden Tears’)

A dark green and deep ruby-red aventurine-glass snuff bottle

Semi-transparent dark green and deep ruby-red glass (appearing as black in normal light), with surface inclusions of aventurine-glass; with a flat lip and recessed, slightly convex foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim; the foot inscribed in regular script Qianlong nian zhi (‘Made during the Qianlong period’)
Imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1736-1770
Height: 2.89 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.5/.77 cm
Stopper: pearl; glass collar

Galia Baylin
Sotheby’s, New York, 3 October 1980, lot 49
Hugh M. Moss Ltd.
Belfort Collection

Snuff Bottles of the Ch’ing Dynasty, p.75, no. 85
Kleiner 1987, no. 63
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 61
Kleiner 1995,no. 107
Treasury 5, no.747

Hong Kong Museum of Art, October-December 1978
L’Arcade Chaumet, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, June - August 1982

What appears to be black glass here is, in fact, a deep emerald-green colour in the neck and a deep ruby red below the neck. Strangely, although the change is quite marked with transmitted light, the apparent black surface changes not at all in normal lighting conditions. This illustrates the complexity of the chemistry of glass.

Based on records of an order for sixteen aventurine-splashed bottles in black, blue, and green placed by the emperor in 1741, we feel it is likely that this bottle originated early in the reign. Nothing about the wheel-cut reign mark would contradict this, for it is an example of the standard wheel-cut mark, in which the spinning wheel constricts the fluency of the strokes. While it was used throughout the dynasty, evidence from painted enamels on glass suggests that marks similar to this were common at the court during the first fifteen years of the reign. It is much easier to date enamels on metal and glass within the reign, and we know that the highest quality of painting from the palace painted-enamel workshops was produced during the first decade or so of the Qianlong period. Several of these have similar wheel-cut marks (see, for instance, Moss 1976, plates. 35, 36, and 38). We are unsure whether production of gold-splashed black glass continued into the latter part of the reign and perhaps beyond, but the rarity of the type suggests that they were not, and all may date from the first decade or two of the Qianlong period.

For another Qianlong-marked, gold-splashed, black glass snuff bottle, see Chang Lin-sheng 1991, p. 206, no. 251 (which is also in Gugong wenwu yuekan, no.168, p. 39), where on p. 43 we find another example with an unusual turquoise-green ground. There is also an example of very similar shape and colour with a Qianlong mark that can only have been carved by the same hand, although it is a little larger (Hall 1993, no. 22, where no. 24 is another on a turquoise-green ground, also reign marked).


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Hugh Moss |