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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1081 

Lot 1081
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Lot 1081
Treasury 5, no.954 (‘Palace Puppies’)

Semi-transparent yellow glass and transparent golden-yellow glass, both with scattered small air bubbles, some elongated; with a flat lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding rounded foot rim; carved as a single overlay with a continuous design of a pair of Buddhist lions with three cubs and a beribboned brocade ball amidst formalized clouds
Imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1750-1790
Height: 5.8 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.75/1.22 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Hugh M. Moss Ltd.
Robert Hall (1985)

JICSBS, Winter 1985, back cover
Kleiner 1987, no. 119
Treasury 5, no.954

Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May-June 1993

In its style of carving, this noble bottle is closely related to lot 1072 in this auction. It represents the busily carved, very well detailed group that we believe to have been made for, and probably at, the court during the mid-Qianlong era, although the style may survive into the latter part of the reign. Buddhist lions are a common subject for the group, one appearing in the Guo’an sale at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 30 October 2000, lot 501, where others are cited.

The unusually careless matching of the overlay colour to the foot rim is a possible indication of a late-Qianlong product, but this may also be an isolated problem. Glassblowers cannot have been able to consistently create precisely the right depth of overlay all around to allow the carver to cut the perfect form and a well-defined foot rim. Even in the early period, some degree of compromise must have been necessary on occasions (as illustrated by Sale 7, lot 137 and lot 1077 in the present auction, where we find minor problems on what appear to be early bottles). In this case, the similarity of the two colours helps to disguise the problem, but the overlay colour does bleed quite deeply into the body of the bottle. In one place, where the colour runs up to meet the lower part of the design, the carver felt it necessary to add some cloud-like motifs to make it look intentional. He then added a few more to areas where the colour did not bleed, to make the original cloud motif look less out of place. On a plane different from the overlay design, these must have been an afterthought and could not have featured in any original sketch of the type we propose as reasonably standard for these palace glass bottles (see Sale 6, lot 162).

This is one of the most spectacular of the entire group of Buddhist-lion bottles, due partly to its sumptuous colour combination. It displays a very busy carving style and a mass of surface detail, which together with the subtle colour combination creates an ideal textural quality. On some versions exhibiting a greater degree of contrast (such as the more common ruby-red on a snowstorm ground), the detailed surface can be distracting. This compressed spherical form accommodates the design better than the standard elongated pear shape.


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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