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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 5 

Lot 5

Lot 5
Treasury6, no. 1138 (‘One Hundred Boys’)

Famille rose enamels on copper, with gold; with a flat lip and flat foot; painted with a continuous scene of one hundred children in a garden with pavilions, a stream, terraces, rocks, and trees, the children at various playful pursuits, some with instruments, one lighting a firework, one holding aloft a model of a Buddhist lion in readiness for a lion dance, another holding a model of an elephant, and one with a lantern; the shoulders with a band of formalized lingzhi beneath a neck-band of scrolling, formalized floral design; the foot inscribed in iron-red seal script Da Qing Jiaqing nian zhi (‘Made during the Jiaqing period of the Qing dynasty’); the interior covered with white enamel; all exposed metal gilt
Imperial, Guangzhou, 1796–1820
Height: 5.35 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.7/1.8 cm
Stopper: gilt bronze, chased with a formalized floral design; original

Christie’s, London, 16 November 1998, lot 251
Robert Hall (1999)

Treasury 6, no. 1138

This bottle is one of a series, all of the same size, shape, subject, and composition, that follows the late-eighteenth-century trend of pattern-book production. One may also encounter bottles from a series of fakes that have appeared over the past decade and can be quite convincing in illustration, although not as much so in the hand, where the metalwork is obviously a poor imitation and the colours and drawing fall short of the originals. For fake examples, see Holden 2002, no. 095, and Hanhai, Beijing, 12 January 2004, lot 2202. (The date given for the former, 1800–1880, must be a misprint, unless it indicates an odd speculation that the article could be a nineteenth-century fake; a genuine bottle with a Jiaqing reign mark could not postdate 1820. The latter is a typical faker’s adaption of a design to a different body form; on genuine bottles, this design only seems to occur on the present shape.) Other fakes have appeared in auction catalogues over the past decade or so, but similar bottles from earlier publications are likely to be genuine.

Genuine examples from the series suffice to demonstrate their repeated compositions and high quality of enamelling. They are in the Denis Low Collection (Kleiner 1999, no. 11; the neck border is slightly different); the Blair Collection (Hughes 2002, no. 352); Christie’s, New York, 28 March 1996, lot 112 ( also illustrated in JICSBS, Summer 1996, p. 19, fig. 1), and Christie’s, New York, 25 March 1998, lot 265. These all have an iron-red, six-character mark in seal script. Six-character seal-script marks are frequently found on imperial wares made at Guangzhou for the court during the Qianlong reign, whereas the standard for the Qianlong palace workshops was a four-character mark (although that was also common on certain Guangzhou wares). An interesting feature of this and the Blair examples, but absent from the Low bottle, is that the blue rocks to one side of the pavilion and on the far shore are outlined in gold enamel, rather than black.

It is likely that the Jiaqing emperor, probably early in his reign, before the enamellers at Guangzhou had lost the skills they had honed during the Qianlong reign, ordered a group of bottles like this one made to be distributed as gifts on some occasion. Surviving bottles probably represent the remnants of a single order, or perhaps two orders, one of which had gold edging to the rocks, one of which had black. Gradually, the new emperor’s austerity programmes and relative lack of interest in the enamelling arts deprived the workshops of the imperial orders necessary to maintain their skills. Guangzhou-enamelled snuff bottles bearing Jiaqing reign marks are therefore rare.

There can be no doubt that this is the original stopper for this bottle. Apart from fitting the unusually large lip perfectly, the metalwork and gilding match precisely.


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.


Easy link to this page: http://www.e-yaji.com/auction/photo.php?photo=1698&exhibition=12&ee_lang=eng


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