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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1054 

Lot 1054
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Lot 1054
Treasury 6, no. 1175 (‘Confronting Longevity’)

Iron-red enamel on colourless glaze on porcelain; with a flat lip and protruding convex foot; moulded on each main side with a similar design of two stylized confronting kui 夔 dragons enclosing a circular shou 壽 (‘longevity’) character in seal script; the shoulders with mask-and-ring handles; the relief detail, lip, upper neck rim, and foot rim all enamelled; the foot glazed; the interior unglazed
Probably imperial, Jingdezhen, 1770–1810
Height: 6.13 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.72/1.82 cm
Stopper: colourless glaze on cobalt on porcelain (made from half a bead); vinyl collar

Quek Kiok Lee Collection, Singapore
Sotheby’s, London, 6 June 1988, lot 4

Kleiner 1994, no. 183
Treasury 6, no. 1175

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

One of the many ceramic innovations in snuff bottles towards the end of the Qianlong period was imitation in porcelain of imperial glass overlay bottles. This design of confronting kui dragons and a shou character was a common subject on glass snuff bottles from the Qianlong era. Even without the clue provided by the subject matter, however, the neat enamelling just of all the relief detail leaves us in no doubt as to its original inspiration. The additional enamelling of the lip, upper neck rim, and foot rim imitates the glass-overlay lip and foot so often found on late-Qianlong glass overlays. (The overlaid foot rim, of course, was much earlier, but the overlay lip seems to have become popular at court during the second half of the eighteenth century.) The imperial nature of this bottle is also suggested by the tiny mask handles set high on the shoulders, with their canine heads, floppy ears, and small, circular rings.

Although the present example has been previously dated to the nineteenth century, dated examples are predominantly from the late Qianlong reign, and the occasional appearance of a Jiaqing-marked example supports the proposition that they were briefly fashionable during the last decade of the eighteenth century.

This, however, is an unusual version and may be one of the earlier ones. The interior joints confirm that it was made from a two-part mould. Careful measurement and comparison of the various elements suggest that both sides were taken from the same mould, which is after all the most convenient method of producing a moulded bottle that is to have identical designs on each main side.


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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