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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VI  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 27 May 2013: Lot 140 

Lot 140

Lot 140
Treasury 2, no. 312 (‘The Plentiful Green Cameo Agate’)

Dendritic agate; very well hollowed, with a flat lip and a recessed, very slightly convex foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim; carved with a cameo design wrapped around one main and two narrow sides of a large carp in a lotus pond, defined by a line of formalized waves above the foot
Official School, 1760–1850
Height: 5.47 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.68/2.22 cm
Stopper: agate; silver collar

Gerd Lester
Pauline Lester
Sotheby’s, New York, 17 March 1997, lot 214

Hong Kong 1977, no. 198
Treasury 2, no. 312

Hong Kong Museum of Art, October–November 1977

The separation of the relief plane from the ground plane on this bottle is so convincing that, with the design mainly concentrated on three sides and the lower half of the bottle, the relief carving appears to be almost temporarily applied to a perfectly formed plain, compressed spherical bottle. One gets the impression that one good shake at the neck would see it all slip off, leaving the form unadorned. As so often with this school, the relief functions primarily to raise an essentially two-dimensional image to a higher plane. There is no attempt to detail the edges of the three or four millimetres of depth of carving, which are mostly left plain except for the lotus stems, which are carved convincingly in an attempt at three-dimensional reality. A similar approach to the other details would have left them awkwardly squared-off.

Although the neatness of the foot detail, with its broad, flat footrim and almost flat recessed foot, and the impeccable hollowing would allow a late Qianlong date for this bottle, it is perhaps as likely to date from the first half of the nineteenth century.

This squat, globular form was a popular one in ceramics during the Daoguang era. Sale 2, lot 50, proves beyond doubt that superb quality combined with excellent detailing was still possible in the Daoguang era, even if no longer the invariable rule. It is possible that this whole sub-group of green dendritic cameos was mostly made during the first half of the nineteenth century.


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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