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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IV  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 November 2011: Lot 12 

Lot 12


Lot 12
Treasury 5, no.706 (‘Emerging from the Mountain’s Breath’)

A 'realgar-glass' snuff bottle

Variegated opaque orange, green, and reddish-brown glass (known as ‘realgar-glass’); with a flat lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim
Height: 5.4 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.69/1.28 cm
Stopper: glass, of ‘official’s hat’ shape with integral finial and collar

Gerd Lester (1986)

Treasury 5, no.706

The common colour for realgar-glass is the variegated scarlet, yellow-ochre, and yellow-orange of Treasury 5, nos. 703 and 704, but once glass imitations of the stone became popular in their own right, the art of the glassmaker took over and began to evolve independently. It soon occurred to glassmakers to vary the colours, to use only some of the usual ones, or to otherwise indulge in the endless possibilities regarding variegation that were open to them. Here, the predominant colour is a rich yellow-orange, swirled with mahogany-brown and green. As with most of the yellow, orange, or ochre colouring in realgar-glass, it retains its opacity even with a strong light inserted into it.

The method of achieving the swirling design here is quite different from the usual range of realgar-glass bottles. In this example, the different colours seem to have been swirled together in the pot, in the molten state, so they became entwined without blending completely. The bottle was then blown. This is apparent from the striations, which are equally obvious inside the bottle and are not concentric at the neck, as is the case with standard realgar-glass bottles, in which brilliant colours are customarily overlaid on a ground of yellow-ochre colour. This method rarely leaves any sign of a mould, although it is likely one was used.

This example is elegant and very well formed, with excellent detailing of the foot and mouth. Nothing about it would necessarily preclude an early date, perhaps even as early as the late Kangxi period, but it was probably made a little later in the eighteenth century.


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Hugh Moss |