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The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 62 

Lot 62

Lot 62
Treasury 2, no. 207 (‘The Happy Birthday Jasper’)

Jasper; well hollowed, with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim
Height: 6.21 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.53/1.63 cm
Stopper: carnelian; gilt-silver collar

Blossom and Hugh Moss (1994–birthday gift to George Bloch)

Treasury 2, no. 207

This is of the variety of jasper known as bloodstone, where green jasper is marked with red. Although it appears typical of jasper, the green ground is less opaque than usual for the material. A strong light shone inside the bottle reveals the green material to be translucent, consisting of very fine green dendritic material so closely compacted that it appears as a solid mass. Under magnification, the red splashes are also dendritic. Another unusual feature is the pale grey-white halo that surrounds much of the red colouring, unique as far as we know in the snuff-bottle field. Although bloodstone was popular in the West, it is not the form of jasper most commonly used for snuff bottles, where the orange and yellow range and variegated green without prominent red inclusions are more common.

Formally, this is one of the large mid-Qing group of rounded-rectangular bottles identified under Sale 2, lot 42, and is as well made and finished as we have come to expect from this group. The hollowing, while not a virtuoso performance by any means, is more than adequate and typical of the group, particularly for opaque materials, with the interior profile following the exterior, despite the fact that no one would be able to see if it did not. The effects of virtuoso hollowing are largely lost with opaque substances, and there was little point in going to that much trouble, unless striving for a lightness of balance, since the difference in capacity between this type of good hollowing and a bottle that would be described as very well hollowed would be, in practical terms, inconsequential.

Formally, the bottle is as impeccable as any in this group, with perfect formal integrity, a neatly formed cylindrical neck extending to the same width as the narrow-side profile, and a crisply-cut protruding flat footrim surrounding a flat foot of a type that may certainly be associated with court production but cannot have been confined solely to it. However, all of this is fairly standard for bottles of this group, and what sets the bottle apart as a work of art is less its form, which is not rare, than its material, which is.


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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