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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1079 

Lot 1079
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Lot 1079
Treasury 6, no. 1239 (‘Leaping Free’)

Iron-red, green, white, and black enamels on colourless glaze on porcelain; the reticulated double body with a convex lip; the outer body moulded and painted within a framed circular panel on each main side with a similar composition of a carp leaping out of turbulent waters, with areas pierced through to reveal the thinly glazed inner body; the lip and inner neck glazed; the interior unglazed
Jingdezhen, 1780–1830
Height: 4.1 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.45/0.64 cm
Stopper: pearl; vinyl collar

Unidentified dealer, Beijing (1921-1922)
Ko Collection
Hugh Moss, (HK) Ltd (1998)

Treasury 6, no. 1239

This is another of the rare bottles from the Ko Collection acquired by the Blochs. One other example of this model is illustrated in Chinese Snuff Bottles and Dishes, no. 74; its existence leads us to expect that more were originally made. This bottle was probably a part of the trend towards fanciful moulds and double bodies in the Jiaqing period. These double-bodied bottles, considerably more complicated to produce than a standard form, seem to have been in fashion during the last decade of the eighteenth century, becoming very popular for the first time during the Jiaqing period, which is a likely date for this one. The mode continued into the mid-nineteenth century and was represented notably in a series of bottles by Wang Bingrong (see Sale 1, lot 112; Sale 2, lot 102; and Sale 3, lot 17). The idea comes originally from a series of technically astonishing porcelain vessels of the earlier Qianlong reign that had double bodies, often with movable interior segments.

Apart from its small size, thin potting, and extreme delicacy, this bottle has an unusually dynamic design, helped of course by the decorative potential provided by reticulation. No artist or designer could fail to be creatively energized by a new technique for the art form that opened up so many possibilities for the rejuvenation of long-established ideas. With the reticulation, a totally contrasting ground plane was added behind the cut-out designs, offering a mysterious, partially hidden, inner surface over which light would play as the bottle was moved in the hand. The design of turbulent waves makes full use of this play of light to set off the powerful design of the leaping carp, further emphasized by its iron-red colouring. To make the most of this simple composition, the artist has chosen to use only four enamel colours: predominantly red and green, but with black and white details. (The white enamel is barely distinguishable from the white ground of the glazed porcelain unless examined very closely.)

This bottle does not fit into imperial production in any specific way; it is more likely to be a rare masterpiece from the burgeoning private production at Jingdezhen in the mid-Qing period.


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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