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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VI  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 27 May 2013: Lot 184 

Lot 184

Lot 184
Treasury 2, no. 347 (‘The Imperial Agate Bottle In A Basket’)

Agate; well hollowed, with a flat lip and a flat foot; carved with a continuous basketweave pattern
Possibly imperial, perhaps palace workshops, 1770–1850
Height: 6.22 cm
Mouth/lip: 1.02/2.22 and 2.12 cm (oval)
Stopper: tourmaline; silver collar

Christie’s, London, 22 April 1991, lot 56
Kingtex Art, Taipei, 24 September 1995, lot 111
Hugh M. Moss Ltd (1995)

Treasury 2, no. 347
Gugong bowuyuan 2000, no. 111

Palace Museum, Beijing, 2000

This is a rare agate version of the popular series of basketweave bottles found usually in nephrite but also known in moulded gourd, yellow porcelain, and ivory. We discussed the subject under Sale 2, lot 56, relating it to a series of other basket subjects and to the court of the late Qianlong era to the Daoguang era, citing various examples. One of the jade basketweave bottles in this collection (lot 176 in this sale) bears the hallmark of the Daoguang emperor.
The subject also appears in glass, with some examples in imperial yellow, which from the eighteenth century must be imperial, and most may have been made at the palace glassworks.

This rare agate example is extremely well formed, hollowed, and carved, with exquisitely modelled simulated basketry, equal to the best in jade and glass, and since the court certainly produced agate as well as jade in its hardstone workshops, we see no reason not to believe that it may have been made at the palace. The existence of the jade example bearing the personal hall mark of the Daoguang emperor, combined with the wide mouth of this example (apparently a mid-Qing feature, even if not exclusively), suggests a mid-Qing date for this group of bottles, whether from the last years of the Qianlong era or as late as the Daoguang.


This is not the Sotheby’s sale catalogue. This is a product of Hugh Moss for the purposes of this website. For the catalogue details please refer to Sotheby’s website or request a copy of a printed sale catalogue from Sotheby’s


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