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photographer E-Yaji.
Snuff Bottles from the Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part I  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 May 2010: Lot 11 

Lot 11

 

Lot 11
Treasury 1, no. 147

HK$96,000

The Cyril Green Yitang Black Jade

Nephrite; extremely well hollowed with a slightly concave foot surrounded by a flat footrim; the foot inscribed in seal script Yitang
1780–1833
Height: 7.18 cm
Mouth/lip: 1.3/1.8 cm
Stopper: amethyst; silver collar

Lot 11 Provenance:
Hugh M. Moss Ltd.
Cyril Green
Christie’s, London, 22 April 1991, lot 53 (with five other bottles)

Published:
Chinese Snuff Bottles No. 2, p. 30, fig. 11
Treasury 1, no. 147

Lot 11 Commentary
The mark on this bottle was discussed in relation to another, rather similar bottle in the J & J Collection (Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 53) and it can now be linked with Nayancheng (1763–1833; see discussion under Treasury 1, no. 146). It is also of grey nephrite, plain form, very well hollowed and with an unusually wide mouth. The two bottles can only have been made either by the same hand or for the same patron exercising the same taste in nephrite bottles. With the alternative radical, we have been able to trace the name to Nayancheng, a well-known Manchu official of the mid-Qing period.

Nayancheng, a 1789 jinshi, was praised by the Jiaqing emperor as a ‘pillar of the state’. He spent much of his career in the northwestern provinces, where he tried to manage the complicated trade relationships among the various nationalities there, giving him ample opportunities to appreciate the most precious product of the Qinghai region: nephrite. Four known snuff bottles exist with an alternative writing of his hall name, two with the version found on this bottle. See Treasury 1, pp. 380–385; Hummel 1943, pp. 584–587, Zhao Zhen 1997, and Chen Baiping 1998.

The filling of the entire available area with the name is also unusual. Add to this the choice of seal script, which is the same in five out of the six known bottles belonging to this individual, the tendency to crowd the characters onto the available foot area so that they fill the entire space and the close similarity in material, style and taste of this example and the J & J bottle, and the association of all the bottles with Nayancheng seems confirmed.

This bottle is artistically similar to the J & J Collection example, with similar material, plain form, and a very wide mouth playing a powerful role. Here the natural markings in the stone can be read in a number of different ways, but one obvious way is as a moody ink monochrome painting of towering, tree-clad, and mist-enshrouded mountains.

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