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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 42 

Lot 42

Lot 42
Treasury 5, no. 801 (‘The McReynolds Palace Glass’)

Translucent yellow glass; with a flat lip and flat hexagonal foot; the body multi-faceted
Imperial glassworks, Beijing , 1700-1780
Height: 4.71 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.66/1.38 cm
Stopper: coral; gilt-silver collar

Alice B. McReynolds
Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 16 April 1985, lot 44

Treasury 5, no. 801

Formally the concept here is very simple: a compressed spherical bottle of a standard shape popular throughout the Qing dynasty has been diamond-faceted all over. It could thus originate from a period when faceting was sufficiently novel in itself to justify the absence of complex forms or clever surface detail. There is a temptation to see such forms as influenced by the European watches imported into China in quantities from the late Kangxi period onwards, many of which were faceted and are closely matched in snuff-bottle shapes. While this theory may have some validity, it is equally likely that such forms evolved independently as no more than a combination of a standard Chinese shape and the art of faceting.

An intriguing feature of the workmanship here is the slightly eccentric faceting technique, possibly an indication of early work on a bottle that does not exhibit sloppiness in any other area. Accurate faceting requires considerable skill, and cutting a single facet with less than geometric precision tends to produce a knock-on effect. Difficult to correct, this often creates a final result more than a trifle eccentric, as is the case here. The slightly eccentric shape of the facets is so widespread that it has almost become, paradoxically, symmetrically asymmetrical, but its overall impression of excellent formal integrity soon evaporates under close examination.

Yellow snuff bottles are likely to have been made at the court from the last years of the seventeenth century into the early Qianlong period, and this one may have been one of them, although it might have been made as late as the Qianlong period. The colour is of the paler range of imperial yellow and thus similar to Sale 5, lot 133. This paler tone may have been an earlier colour that gave way in popularity to a richer, deeper shade as the eighteenth century progressed, although it is unlikely that it would have been entirely displaced. Bottles of this paler yellow colour frequently possess, independently, a variety of possible indications of early manufacture.


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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