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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 51 

Lot 51

Lot 51
Treasury 2, no. 221 (‘The Windswept Steppes Banded Agate’)

Agate; extensively but unevenly hollowed, with a slightly concave inner lip and recessed, slightly convex foot surrounded by a rounded footrim
Height: 6.21 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.68/1.72 cm
Stopper: coral; gilt-bronze

W. H. Yeung (Hong Kong, 1976)
Gerd Lester (1986)

Kleiner 1987, no. 144
Orientations, October 1987, front cover and p. 43, no. 9
Treasury 2, no. 221

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

Formally this is a very slight extension of ‘squaring’ the circle. The impression here is already verging on the popular rounded-rectangular shape, despite how little varied from a strictly circular main-side profile it really is.

Banded agates are quite common in the snuff-bottle field; they are usually employed in this horizontal configuration but, as common as they may be, no two are identical and some, like this one, have extremely unusual structures of banding. The area beneath the main band of striations is completely free of markings and, in common with the rest of the material, transparent—that is, one can see through it well enough to see the spoon with some clarity. Even the banding on the opposite side is visible, although again not distinctly.

There is a strange anomaly in this bottle that may indicate that it is a superb product from a period of decline, and perhaps from the nineteenth century. Although the exterior is of perfect formal integrity and finish, the interior hollowing, while extensive, is a trifle lazy at the inside shoulders, where it becomes rather fan-shaped, visible in the illustration with transmitted light. The foot is also of the recessed convex form, which we suggest is a hint of decline, even when as well formed as here (see discussion under Sale 3, lot 11). The footrim, on the other hand, is perfectly formed and extremely neat, so perhaps we are dealing with a bottle from the mid-Qing period where the decline has set in but existing standards were still generally high.


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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