Lot 112 Lot 113 Lot 114 Lot 115 Lot 116 Lot 117 Lot 118

photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VI  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 27 May 2013: Lot 115 

Lot 115

Lot 115
Treasury 5, no. 788 (‘Winter-Green Imperial Companion’)

Semi-transparent, pale green glass, crizzled and unevenly suffused with air bubbles of various sizes; with a slightly concave lip and a protruding flat foot; carved with raised, very slightly convex circular panels on each main side, the narrow sides with mask-and-ring handles
Imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1736-1770
Height: 4.6 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.72/1.40 cm
Stopper: coral; jadeite finial; vinyl collar

A collector in East Asia
Christie’s, Hong Kong, 1 April 1992, lot 1584

Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 77
Treasury 5, no. 788

Hong Kong Museum of Art, March-June 1994
National Museum, Singapore, November 1994-February 1995

A small group of bottles of this lovely and distinct colour exists, one of which identifies it with the palace and with the Qianlong emperor. A magnificent example in the J & J Collection bears the mark Qianlong yuwan (‘For the imperial enjoyment of the Qianlong emperor’ ; Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 334, and Snuff Bottles of the Ch’ing Dynasty 1978, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1978, no. 70, where no. 71 is another example of the same colour). A more regular Qianlong seal-script mark appears on an example from the Christopher Sin Collection (Sin, Hui, and Kwong 1996, no. 5). Another is carved with typically imperial formalized kui dragons on one side, making up the character long (dragon), as they do on Sale 4, lots 41 (where the character is reversed!) and 66, and Sale 5, lot 34. On the other side we find two dragons in clouds, although we are not told how many claws they have, and it is not evident from the illustration (Kleiner 1990, no. 20).

Crizzling (which we can observe on this example), shapes (several of the examples have raised circular panels on each main side), and reign marks, together with the decoration on the Ault bottle, allow us to date the entire group to the earlier part of the Qianlong reign. Raised circular panels of this type also feature on the only known enamelled glass snuff bottle datable to the late Kangxi period (Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 183, and Snuff Bottles of the Ch’ing Dynasty 1978, no. 19).

The mask-and-ring handles also suggest an early date. The rings here play a distinctly minor role, their diameter being only about two-thirds of the height of the mask. The oft-cited Yongzheng- marked turquoise bottle (Snuff Bottles of the Ch’ing Dynasty 1978, no. 38), its rings being small in relation to the masks, seems to confirm that this indicates an early date. Another feature of this example that may indicate a date earlier in the evolution of the mask handle on snuff bottles is that the beast has a distinct jowl beneath its nose, although otherwise the formalization is of the standard type. The treatment of the jaw here suggests a degree of realism, whereas once such masks became a standard feature added to large numbers of bottles as a matter of course, details were simplified and the jaw tends to disappear. We always caution that too much reliance should not be placed on such rules of thumb; exceptions are bound to occur. All these features in combination, however, permit a degree of confidence in dating this particular bottle to the first decades of the Qianlong reign.

The appeal of this bottle can be attributed to a number of different features: the lovely colour, intriguing crizzling, delightful and elegant shape, superbly carved mask-and-ring handles, perfect formal integrity, and the high skills of both glassblower and lapidary, not to mention its association with the court and conceivably even the emperor himself. In common with any other great work of art, however, this bottle transcends the sum of its parts.


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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