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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IV  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 November 2011: Lot 76 

Lot 76


Lot 76
Treasury 6, no.1288 (‘Playful Continuity’)

A blue and white porcelain 'children' snuff bottle

Colourless glaze on cobalt on porcelain; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding convex footrim; painted under the glaze with a continuous design of sixteen children playing various games in a garden setting with a low fence, one child holding a hanging chime, one flying a kite, one lighting three firecrackers, three holding books, one holding a vase of lotus, one with an enormous peach, one holding a sprig of gui flowers, one holding a fish-shaped lantern aloft, one holding a large model of a coin, and the rest without specific attributes, three bats and a few formalized clouds above them all; the foot inscribed in underglaze-blue regular script, Yunzhou yazhi (‘Elegantly made for Yunzhou’); the lip, inner neck, and interior glazed, the biscuit footrim with a wash of brown pigment
Jingdezhen, 1821–1850
Height: 5.45 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.68/1.78 cm
Stopper: coral; vinyl collar
Illustration: watercolour by Peter Suart

Robert Hall (1987)

Arts of Asia, September–October 1990, p. 96
Hall 1987, no. 62
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 172
Treasury 6, no.1288

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

The shape, subject, style of decoration, and quality of the underglaze blue here are all typical of the Daoguang period. An identical bottle (Lawrence 1996, no. 99) also has brown pigment applied to the biscuit footrim. This was common practice on Qing ceramics that were made in imitation of earlier wares with naturally dark foot rims. This step hardly seems necessary on a snuff bottle that makes no pretence at being any older than the nineteenth century; it is more likely that the potter here was evoking not an era but a material: huashi. Huashi had the cachet in the Qing dynasty of being more expensive than normal Jingdezhen porcelain. A thin wash on the footrim is all it would take to give the impression that the entire bottle is made of the more costly material.

Yunzhou was the sobriquet of at least two men who could have commissioned this snuff bottle—whether one of them did or not, we have no way of knowing. One of them was Wang Senshu, a man in the Shanghai era in the middle of the nineteenth century who had a great interest in medicine and made medicine available to poor patients, saving many lives. The other was Dong Zongyuan, an official from the Nanjing area. As a supervising censor in the Office of Scrutiny for War, he bitterly protested the 1842 Treaty of Nanking in a memorial to the Daoguang emperor.


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Hugh Moss |