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The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1041 

Lot 1041
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Lot 1041
Treasury 5, no.785 (‘Kilian’s Crizzle’)

Transparent sapphire-blue glass, extensively crizzled; with a flat lip and recessed, slightly convex oval foot; carved with a framed circular panel on each main side and similar oval ones on the narrow sides
Imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1696-1735
Height: 5.48 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.90/1.78 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; gilt-silver collar

Hugh M. Moss Ltd., Hong Kong (1994)

Treasury 5, no.785

Heavily crizzled sapphire-blue glass is typical of the Kangxi and Yongzheng periods, and this is one of those rare bottles that can be dated to the earliest phase of palace glass production. It has not come to us untouched. Repolishing has reduced the degradation of the surface, and detailing of the foot has the appearance of having been changed at the same time, probably to remove chips, bevelling the outer edge of what would almost certainly have been a more straight-sided profile to the foot rim, given the precision of the raised frames. Fortunately, it is extremely difficult to erase all traces of heavy crizzling, particularly from early examples in which the cause is properly glass disease resulting from chemical imbalance. This permeates the surface of the glass too deeply, its extent being evident here beneath the surface gloss. Moreover, the interior surface clearly shows crizzling; it has been left in its original state.

There is a strong possibility this example dates from the Kangxi period, but it is surely no later than the Yongzheng reign. As such, it is one of our earliest glass bottles. It might even have been produced under the directorship of Kilian Stumpf (1655 – 1720), but in any case its age makes it one of our most important plain glass snuff bottles.

It is has a raised circular panel on each side that could serve as an integral snuff dish. The dishes are surrounded by a raised frame; this would allow more control over the snuff while lumps are being crushed out. Early bottles of this type, in which one or both of the main surfaces appear to have been intended to double as snuff dishes, support our conviction that the separate snuff dish was a later evolution, and that they would originally have been integral. It is not entirely certain, however, that these panels were designed as snuff dishes. It is possible that the decorative intention was no more than a desire to match the ubiquitous circular panel of decoration on most Kangxi-marked palace-enamelled metal bottles. The proliferation of dish-like elements on early forms, however, must surely have led to their use as integral snuff dishes, irrespective of the intention of their makers.


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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