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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 28 

Lot 28

Lot 28
Treasury7, no. 1589 (‘Longevity Pebble’)

Transparent and translucent variegated yellow, pale golden-brown, and brown amber (of the variety known as ‘Baltic amber’), with some surface crizzling; well hollowed, with an irregular, flat foot; carved on one main side with a reclining stag looking up at a bat emerging from a formalized cloud, with a lingzhi growing from a crevice, implying that the bottle itself represents a rocky ground
The Amber Pebble Master, 1740–1860
Height: 5.29 cm
Mouth: 0.51 cm
Stopper: jadeite, carved as a calyx

Private American collection
Private English collection
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd (2002)

Treasury 7, no. 1589

This is one of the most spectacular carvings of the Amber Pebble Master (see under lot 131 in this auction), not because the impeccable carving itself is any better than his usual delightful depictions of mythical and real creatures, nor because of the imaginative use of variations in colour in the material, but because of the material itself. It is one of the loveliest pieces of yellow amber known among snuff bottles, and it must be remembered that many amber snuff bottles have survived despite the fragility of the material—a testament to the popularity of amber from the mid-Qing period onwards. The lovely colour and markings of the translucent, yellow material are juxtaposed with areas of transparent, pale golden-yellow and brown colouring, including one patch (beneath and behind the reclining stag) that transforms the setting. The stag reclines on some variegated yellow markings that appear to be rocks, and the transparent area runs down one side of them and along the base, immediately suggesting a waterfall and a stream bordering the stage upon which the stag reclines. Once this is noticed, the rest of the markings in the yellow material are transformed into rocks and caves, and the lingzhi, growing seemingly out of nowhere if only the relief is read, becomes sensible and can be seen as growing from a rocky outcrop behind the stag. Another area of transparent material is behind the bat, giving it greater depth, accentuated by the edge of its wings being in brown material, as are parts of the fungus. No lovelier or more fitting stopper could be found to match this piece of material than the excellent piece of jewel-quality jadeite carved as a formalized calyx. It is a sumptuous combination.


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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