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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VI  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 27 May 2013: Lot 156 

Lot 156

Lot 156
Treasury 1, no. 48 (‘The McReynolds Bat’)
HK$100,000

Nephrite; extremely well hollowed; carved in the form of a bat
1740–1850
Length: 5.69 cm
Mouth: 0.64 cm
Stopper: bronze; gilt-bronze finial carved with formalized petals

Provenance:
Alice B. McReynolds
Sotheby’s New York, 16 April 1985, lot 160

Published:
Kleiner 1987, no. 57
Kleiner 1995, no. 89
Treasury 1, no. 48
JICSBS, Winter 2000, p. 10

Exhibited:
Sydney L. Moss Ltd, London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993
British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1997

In Chinese art, bats are almost invariably depicted in flight or as formalized decorative motifs. They do not hang upside-down. To create a bat in the round with wings extended as if in flight would be entirely unsuitable for the snuff-bottle form, which needs to be compact, so the artist here was faced with the problem of how to satisfy both function and form. The answer he came up with was to create a bat with eyes wide open and feet withdrawn into its fur to indicate that it is not sleeping, but its wings are at its sides so that it can be handled and function ideally as a snuff bottle, which it does. The popular association of the bat (fu) with happiness (fu) is, of course, satisfied merely by the choice of a bat as subject matter, regardless of how it is depicted.

This rare little bottle seems to fit into the group of superbly carved, very well hollowed animal-form bottles represented by Sale 1, lot 19; Sale 2, lot 113; and Sale 3, lot 118. Although the material has prominent grey flecking throughout the stone, which is unusual for the group, the material is otherwise rather similar, as are the quality of the carving, degree of hollowing, soft matt polish, and the fact that the mouth of the bottle is drilled straight through the detailing of the bat’s mouth. Beyond that, it is difficult to compare details, since bats have so little in common anatomically with bears, dogs, pigs, and the other creatures of the group.

 

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

 

Easy link to this page: http://www.e-yaji.com/auction/photo.php?photo=1490&exhibition=11&ee_lang=eng


  
  

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