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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1095 

Lot 1095
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Lot 1095
Treasury 5, no.988 (‘White Foot’)

Brown-streaked transparent ruby-red, transparent sapphire-blue, brown- streaked semi-transparent pale turquoise-blue, and translucent white glass; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat foot rim; carved as a single overlay, but including carving into the ground colour, with a continuous design of a rocky ground from which grow a lingzhi, a flowering prunus tree, orchids, and begonias
Height: 6.14 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.66/1.40 cm
Stopper: nephrite

Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 29 April 1992, lot 333

Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw1994, no.113
Treasury 5, no.988

Hong Kong Museum of Art, March-June 1994
National Museum, Singapore, November 1994- February 1995

Use of the ground colour to provide a plane of relief carving is an unusual feature among courtly-style glass overlays. A bottle such as this one might have inspired the idea, of which another example is provided by Sale 7, lot 177. Although they occur infrequently, they did become more fashionable with the Yangzhou school (see, for instance, Sale 2, lots 73 and 76; Sale 4, lots 44, 90, and 115; Sale 5, lot 15; Sale 6, lot 113; Sale 7, lot 115; and lot 1127 in the present auction). The technical process is indicated by the fact that all the carving in the white ground is either around the base or at the shoulders, both areas where the bottle curves inward. The bottle was made larger at the top and bottom, with overlay colours added to the middle section in the normal way before the base and shoulders were cut more sharply away from the surface to allow for relief in the ground colour. The origins of bottles such as this are unknown, and while the first examples might have been made intentionally, they might equally have resulted from an accident during production. During the carving of the base, for example, a piece of glass might have been broken off, necessitating the removal of a lot more to even things out. Whatever may have caused the carver to cut more away from round the base and the shoulders, however, would inevitably produce this unusual effect.

We discussed under Sale 6, lot 193 the possibility that the Guyue xuan enamelled wares of the post-1767 period with occasional relief carving as part of the decoration may have influenced the glass-carving style of examples where the foot rim is not in a contrasting colour. The same speculation applies to this bottle. The ground-colour carving here resembles the relief-carved white glass of the Guyue xuan enamelled wares.

This carving is confident and well controlled, and likely to date from the late Qianlong period, but might have been made in the early years of the nineteenth century. The design is well composed and impressive, although undulations of the ground plane betray the lower standards we associate with the latter part of the eighteenth century. The carver has accommodated the glassmaker’s blobs of colour by allowing certain elements of the design to be dual-toned, as in the case of the prunus tree, where the upper buds on the left-hand side are in blue on a red branch. This seems to arise out of the process of overlay carving, and was discussed under [no. 983] in the present auction.


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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