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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IV  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 November 2011: Lot 65 

Lot 65

 
   

Lot 65
Treasury 3, no. 436 (‘The Mother of All Pearls’)
HK$56,250

A mother of pearl 'mythical beast and bats' snuff bottle

Mother-of-pearl; adequately but not very well hollowed, with a flat lip and recessed irregular foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim; carved on one side with a mythical beast with two tails on one main side and three bats surrounding a formalized shou (‘longevity’) medallion on the other main side
1750–1880
Height: 6.04 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.52/1.64 and 1.56 (irregular oval)
Stopper: pearl; glass collar

Provenance:
Michael Stern
Sydney L. Moss Ltd. (1965)
Kurt Graf Blücher von Wahlstatt (1971)
Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (1985)

Published:
Sydney L. Moss Ltd. 1965, no. 118 (unillustrated)
Moss, 1971a,no. 169
JICSBS, March 1981, back cover
Treasury 3, no. 436

Exhibited:
Sydney L. Moss Ltd., March–April, 1965

This is one of the better examples of a group of mother-of-pearl bottles that appear to date from the mid-Qing period. The vast majority of mother-of-pearl bottles known, and they are not uncommon, seem to be of the same type and by the same workshop or school, but we have no idea whether that school was a local one, set up in a place such as Guangzhou, where the material was brought ashore and a great deal of the material was certainly carved into items for the export trade throughout the eighteenth century, or at workshops elsewhere in the empire. Stylistically, there is nothing to indicate that they might be an imperial group; there is one example in the imperial collection (Chang Lin-sheng 1991, no. 408), but that does not necessarily indicate imperial manufacture. For other examples, see the commentary for this bottle in Treasury 3, no. 436.

None of these bottles is well hollowed, since the material is ill-suited to extensive hollowing, but all hold enough snuff to make them functional. A finely hollowed mother-of-pearl bottle would be unlikely to last long.

 

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