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photographer E-Yaji.
Snuff Bottles from the Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part I  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 May 2010: Lot 17 

Lot 17

   

Lot 17
Treasury 1, no. 175
HK$744,000

The Loch Awe Blue Jadeite

Jadeite; extremely well hollowed with a concave foot surrounded by a flat footrim
1770–1860
Height: 5.35 cm
Mouth/lip:      1.05/1.90 and 1.88 cm (oval)
Stopper: tourmaline

Lot 17 Provenance:
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., (London, circa 1972)
The Loch Awe Collection (Lady Mary Stewart)
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., (Hong Kong, 1985)

Published:
Kleiner 1987, no. 45
Treasury 1, no. 175

Exhibited:
Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993

Lot 17 Commentary
The term ‘blue’ as applied to jadeite is usually used with a certain flexibility since jadeite of a distinct, unequivocal blue colour is extremely rare. The best one can hope for, certainly in a piece of material large enough for a snuff bottle, is a greyish-blue colour, although there is one remarkable exception which dates from the late Qianlong period and was almost certainly made at the palace workshops (see Hamilton 1977, p. 32, J.51). No. 177 has some areas of darker, more convincing blue than this, and, of course, lavender and lilac are also found in jadeite, but there are few jadeite bottles that are as pleasing and as even a bluish colour as this one, albeit the term bluish-grey would be more accurate to describe the precise colour.
         
One reason why tourmaline stoppers are nearly always found on bottles of anything approaching blue colour is because the vibrant pink of the material emphasizes the blueness of the jadeite. Remove the stopper from this bottle and the term bluish-grey must be used; with it in place, however, the bottle appears to be of a more definite, albeit still steely-blue colour. The colour is somewhat similar to that of Treasury 1, no. 174, although the greater transparency of that example reduces its apparent blueness. The two bottles are probably from the same workshop and even though this one is more compressed, they are of remarkably similar profile, tapering very slightly toward the foot. Each has a cylindrical neck of similar height, is identically hollowed through an equally wide mouth in relation to the lip, and each has an identical concave, oval foot surrounded by a narrow, flat footrim. Although two different workshops might use some of these features on bottles of similar material, to find all of them so closely repeated suggests the same governing artist and a single workshop.

Apart from the lovely colour of this bottle, its texture is also exciting. The stone is suffused with the common crystalline markings of jadeite which always make for a fascinating surface. There are also several veins and mottled areas of more transparent stone which join with the more crystalline patches to create a natural design of clouds or the frozen surface of a lake reflecting a clear blue sky. As with all of the bottles in this group, the formal integrity is impeccable.

For a reassessment of the use of jadeite in snuff bottles, see Treasury 1, no. 187, and for another of the group, although not necessarily from the same hand, Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 59.

 

 

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