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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IV  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 November 2011: Lot 81 

Lot 81


Lot 81
Treasury 6, no.1181(‘The Star Gods’)

A 'famille-rose' enamelled porcelain 'Three Star Gods' snuff bottle

Famille-rose enamels on colourless glaze on cobalt on porcelain; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim; painted with a continuous scene of the Three Star Gods (Fu, Lu, and Shou – representing good fortune, wealth and longevity), holding a ruyi sceptre, a hu tablet, and a peach, respectively, together with a child in a setting of rocks, a pine tree, lingzhi, and pink flowers, the scene interrupted by an auspicious inscription in regular script followed by two seals in positive seal script Pian and yue (together, ‘A sliver of moon’) and framed between underglaze-blue formalized borders picked out in gold enamel of lotus petals around the base and of lingzhi around the shoulders; the foot inscribed in iron-red seal script Qianlong nian zhi (‘Made during the Qianlong period’); the lip painted gold; the interior glazed
Imperial kilns, Jingdezhen, 1780 (probably 1795)–1799
Height: 6.1 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.62/1.44 cm
Stopper: famille-rose enamels on colourless glaze on porcelain, moulded with a formalized floral design; John Charlton, London, circa 1972

Bellis Collection
Robert Kleiner (1992)

Kleiner 1993, no. 68
Kleiner 1995,no. 197
Treasury 6, no.1181

British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

Here again we have the reversed ‘S’ element in the character Qian in the mark, probably indicating the period following the Qianlong emperor’s abdication (see Sale 3, lot 117 and this auction, lot 158). Another feature of some of the porcelain bottles from the last years of the Qianlong emperor’s life is the use of unusually small marks. This is an extreme case: not making full use of the ample space available, the mark writer has placed so tiny a rectangle in the centre of the foot that it is barely legible without a magnifying glass.

The colourless glaze on the interior is unusual for a mid-Qing porcelain bottle. The earlier Qianlong examples in this collection, including all from the Tang Ying group, are glazed inside, but by the mid- to late Qianlong, most porcelain bottles were not. Glazed interiors were revived during the late Jiaqing to become the standard for the Daoguang and subsequent reigns. And yet here we have a glazed interior on a bottle that can be dated with some confidence (even without the evidence of the mark) to the last few years of the eighteenth century. This, therefore, is one of the earliest known examples of the revival of the practice. A convenient way of making uncompressed bottles appears to have been to form them in a mould and add a separate foot; this method made it necessary to seal the joint on the inside, and this was most easily done by glazing it. If this was one of the reasons for the shift back to glazed interiors, an uncompressed form such as this would naturally be among the earliest to exemplify that shift.

Without its stopper, the form here would need very little adjustment to conform to the series of mid-Qing vase shapes that, no doubt, inspired it. In accordance with the requirements of a snuff bottle, the neck has been narrowed, and a short cylindrical mouth added to take a stopper (whereas the vases were fitted with a wide, domed cover with a finial); but the origin of the form is obvious enough.

The couplet on this bottle may be translated

Rejoice when good fortune and government appointment arrive at the same time.
Celebrate the attainment of a thousand years at the place where the peaches of longevity ripen.

Easy link to this page: http://www.e-yaji.com/auction/photo.php?photo=1117&exhibition=9&ee_lang=eng


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Hugh Moss |