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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 2 

Lot 2

Lot 2
Treasury6, no. 1242 (‘The J & J Floral Gourd’)

Famille rose enamels on colourless glaze on porcelain; the flattened, double-gourd form with a convex lip and no functional foot; decorated on each main side with the almost identical design in relief of a shou (‘longevity’) character above a kui dragon set against a painted ground of formalized scrolling Indian lotus and scrolling leaves and branches that extend beneath the base of the bottle; the inner neck and interior covered with a colourless glaze
Height: 6.4 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.62/1.10 cm
Stopper: coral; pearl finial

Hugh M. Moss Ltd.
Elisabeth and Ladislas Kardos
Sotheby’s, New York, 1 July 1985, lot 9
Hugh M. Moss Ltd.
J & J Collection
Christie’s, New York, 30 March 2005, lot 8

Chinese Snuff Bottles, no. 5, p. 73, fig. 85
Christie, Manson & Woods 1987,back cover and no. 72
JICSBS, Autumn 1989, front cover
Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 232
Treasury 6, no. 1242

Vancouver Centennial Exhibition, October 1969
Christie’s London, October 1987
Christie’s New York, 1993
Empress Place Museum, Singapore, 1994
Museum für Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt, 1996–1997
Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, 1997
Naples Museum of Art, Florida, 2002
Portland Museum of Art, Oregon, 2002
National Museum of History, Taipei, 2002
International Asian Art Fair, Seventh Regiment Armory, New York, 2003
Poly Art Museum, Beijing, 2003

This is the fourth bottle in the rare series represented by Sale 6, lot 217. It is also the finest of the four in terms of the intricacy and delicacy of the design and painted floral borders. Also setting it apart from the other three is the design. The shou character, which dominates on the others as the only relief decoration, is here reduced to a minor role in the upper bulb of the gourd, while a splendidly rococo kui dragon commands our attention as the main design. Its overall square shape is balanced against the bold aster-like Indian-lotus of the surrounding design, with very neatly drawn and complex petals.

The technique used here to construct the shou characters and the kui dragons involved the potter rolling out long strings of porcelain to an even thickness and applying them to the surface to form the designs, fixing them with a glue of slip. The slip bonds the relief to the ground, and as the dampness is fired out of the relief, the slip, and the body of the bottle, they bond as a single ceramic unit. Despite the simplicity of the method, the care required to apply the strings of porcelain as desired explains why there are so few of the group as a whole, and why no two are alike. The design here is of almost even thickness in the relief, albeit with the minor variations inevitable in rolling strings of porcelain with the fingers. Our reconstruction of the method of manufacture is supported by fact that some of the strings are almost free of the ground, despite the covering of glaze, and retain their cylindrical cross-section; if the design were made by mould, this would be impossible unless the raised parts were deliberately undercut by hand afterwards. There would seem to be no artistic reason for doing that.

Probably dating from the Jiaqing reign, this is one of the most spectacular of mid- Qing porcelain snuff bottles. The striking combination of stark white relief and densely packed formalized floral ground is very effective.


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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