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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IV  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 November 2011: Lot 3 

Lot 3


Lot 3
Treasury 5, no.1032 (‘Sleeping Beauty’)

An inscribed ruby-red glass overlay 'Princess Shouyang' snuff bottle

Transparent, slightly streaky, ruby-red glass on translucent white glass; with a flat lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding flattened footrim; carved on one main side with Princess Shouyang asleep on a bench, leaning on her fan, beneath a blossoming prunus tree from which petals fall, with perforated rock formations, inscribed in relief, ‘Prunus blossoms mark the forehead, Made in the year gengchen’,  the other main side with the Hehe immortals in a long boat, one holding a spray of lotus while the other holds a box on his shoulder with one hand and paddles with the other, with a seal in relief, Yunting. 
Yangzhou, 1880
Height: 6.05 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.65/1.82 cm
Stopper: jadeite; vinyl collar

Cyrus Jasperse
Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 14 March 1979, lot 3

Kleiner 1987, no.126
Treasury 5, no.1032
Moss and Sargent 2011, fig. 37, lower left

Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May-June 1993

The close similarity of this bottle to the Sale 2, lot 141 in both style and feeling includes the fact that the overlay colour of the crisply-carved footrim falls short of precisely matching the outer form of the rim where it meets the body of the bottle—although the neck rim here, as there, is impeccably matched. The stylistic associations between the carving of the sleeping princess here and the scholar in that one are irresistible, for they display identical poses, the left leg raised and set over the right (although this is partially concealed by a skirt worn by the princess). Only the fan held by each of them is in a different position. This also exhibits a corresponding level of control in the shading of the overlay colour, used here to separate the sleeping princess from the ground and define the balustrades of the palace terrace on which she sleeps. The log boat on the other side alerts us to the presence of transcendent beings, two youths known as the Hehe immortals, identified by the lotus flower (hehua) and the box (hezi), symbols associated with them that also provide the name Hehe (see Sale 2, lot 32).

This is one of those bottles on which the name Yunting is written with a character ordinarily pronounced jun, hence our past references—also before we realized Li Yunting was a patron, not a glass carver—to the ‘Li Junting school’. Sale 2, lot 141, whose stylistic similarities we have just noted, was made for Li’s brother, Li Weizhi (Li Peizhen).

Legend has it that Princess Shouyang, daughter of Emperor Wu of Song (r. 420- 422 AD) in the Six Dynasties period, once took a nap on the veranda of the Hanzhang palace after she had admired the prunus blossoms in the garden. While she slept, some blossoms were blown from the branches, and one flower landed on her forehead, leaving faint marks of five pink petals. She was unaware of this after she awoke, but the court ladies were fascinated by her appearance and followed suit, pressing prunus flowers onto their foreheads and calling the result ‘prunus-blossom make-up.’ In Chinese folklore, she is respected as the flower goddess of the first month, with the prunus blossom as her emblem.


Easy link to this page: http://www.e-yaji.com/auction/photo.php?photo=1163&exhibition=9&ee_lang=eng


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Hugh Moss |