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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 100 

Lot 100

Lot 100
Treasury 2, no. 203 (‘Mary’s Mellow Yellow Miniature’)

Chalcedony; well but not extensively hollowed, with a concave lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim
Height: 3.75 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.35/1.13 cm
Stopper: glass; vinyl collar

Robert Kleiner (1992)

Treasury 2, no. 203

Formally, this miniature is of the same group as Sale 2, lot 42. It is equally well made and very evenly hollowed, with the interior contour following the exterior profile well. Although the walls are relatively thick, that is an artistic choice that, once made, has been impeccably well applied.

The material it is unusual in the snuff-bottle field and slight doubt hovers over its correct identification. Here it is distinctly chalcedony-like, a clear, translucent material that takes a high polish.

Even though a miniature, this bottle fits into the group of rounded rectangular bottles exemplified by Sale 2, lot 42. There is some evidence that this form was popular at court. Bottles of this form occasionally bear the mark of a known courtier (see, for instance, Treasury 1, no. 154 for one with the private hall mark of Zaiquan, the Fifth Prince Ding). The shape is such a common one and such an obvious combination of practicality and elegance that it was almost certainly made at a number of different locations as well as the court. We know that yellow glass was a staple of imperial production and that yellow jade was valued at court for its resemblance to the imperial colour.

Another possible court connection for this form lies in the number of yellow jade bottles of the shape, some with imperial inscriptions. Whether other naturally yellow stones carried the same weight of meaning is not known, but if yellow was valued in jade as a natural reflection of the imperial colour, why not yellow chalcedony as well?


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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