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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IV  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 November 2011: Lot 80 

Lot 80


Lot 80
Treasury 5, no.942 (‘Personified Power’)

A transparent emerald-green and colourless glass 'chi dragons' snuff bottle

Transparent, emerald-green, and colourless glass suffused with air bubbles of various sizes, many elongated, including a few large ones; with a flat lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim made up of elements of the design; carved as a single overlay with a continuous design of two chi dragons
Height: 7 cm
Mouth/lip: 1.12/1.85 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Zhirou Zhai Collection
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., Hong Kong (1993)

Treasury 5, no.942

This magnificent carving is linked to a series of early glasswares, usually in blue, red or green on a bubble-suffused, colourless ground. The series is also characterized by high, well-rounded relief with an extraordinary sculptural quality, wide mouths, and remarkable technical control. The chi dragon bottles from this group have an appearance quite distinct from those displaying other subjects, but are linked by certain features to the geese of Sale 3, lot 87 and no. 926, the fish of no. 943, the blue overlay of Sale 2, lot 69, and thence to a series of masterly carvings that seem to be imperial output from the height of the art during the first half of the Qianlong period (although we are mindful of caveats concerning imperial attributions for those individual examples).

The chi dragon - always a courtly favourite - was among popular subjects for the group. The court remains the most likely source of these bottles. It is significant that whenever this subject appears on the group it is delineated and carved with remarkable fluidity and artistry. When a pale emerald-green glass is overlaid on colourless glass, as they sometimes are with this group, the lack of contrast partly obscures their appeal, but they are always of compelling quality. They swoop and curve in dynamic poses, heads turned and powerful thighs thrusting their forelegs out to ‘grip’ the air they inhabit. This is big, bold, almost certainly imperial glass carving at its most powerful, and nowhere does it appear more impressive than on snuff bottles.


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Hugh Moss |