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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 84 

Lot 84

Lot 84
Treasury6, no. 1454 (‘Peonies and Prunus’)

Famille rose enamels on blue glaze, and white glaze on brown stoneware; with a flat lip and concave foot; painted on one main side with flowering prunus branches beneath the sun, and on the other with flowering peonies; the blue glaze continuing beneath the foot; the lip unglazed; the interior glazed white
Yixing, 1780–1840
Height: 6.02 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.55/1.46 cm
Stopper: mother-of-pearl; gilt-silver collar

Unidentified dealer, Ji’nan fu, Shandong province, 1926
Ko Collection
Christie’s, London, 12 June 1972, lot 53
Robert Hall (1985)

Kleiner 1987, no. 241
Treasury 6, no. 1454

Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993

Blossoming prunus branches occur frequently on enamelled Yixing snuff bottles, often painted on a coloured ground. As a rule, the pale colour of the prunus was best set off by a blue-glazed ground like this one, but other subjects were sometimes painted on a white or creamy-white ground; there is a bottle of similar shape to this one decorated with a four-clawed dragon on a white ground in the Baur Collection (Stevens 1976, no. 348). This prunus design seems to have remained a popular subject well into the Daoguang period, as it also appears on bottles of the same shape as those with Pekinese dogs and doves that can be dated to that reign (see, for instance, Geng 1992, no. 197).

We may assume that the lip was left unglazed in this instance so the bottle could be fired upside down on its lip, allowing the foot to be completely covered with glaze. The interior is also glazed, in this case with the thin, white glaze that is typical of the mid-Qing group. This would have made it difficult to suspend the vessel on a rod, since the rod would fuse with the glaze and, when broken off for removal, leave a nasty flaw on the inner surface that might constantly catch on the snuff-dipper’s spoon.

The flowers on one main side have been previously identified as chrysanthemums, perhaps because of the rounded leaves, but some peonies do have such leaf contours, both flowers are consistent with known types of peonies, and the yellow flower is emphatically not a chrysanthemum.


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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