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The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1034 

Lot 1034
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Lot 1034
Treasury 1, no. 173 (‘Springwater Jadeite’)
HK$175,500

Jadeite; very well hollowed; with a recessed oval foot
1790–1880
Height: 5.39 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.67/1.96 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Provenance:
Joseph V. Seo (Hong Kong, 1978)
Gerd Lester (1986)

Published:
Treasury 1, no. 173

Despite Zhao Zhiqian’s 趙之謙 mistaken claim in the 1860s that jadeite was too hard a substance to hollow out well (see Richard John Lynn’s translation of Zhao Zhiqian’s Yonglu xianjie 勇蘆閑詰, JICSBS, Autumn 1991, p. 18), not only are many jadeite bottles very well hollowed, some are virtuoso performances taking the hollowing process to an impressive extreme (see, for instance, Sale 1, lot 17). Such super-hollowed bottles appear to be among the earliest of the mid-Qing fad for jadeite snuff bottles that probably followed the normalization of relations with Burma in 1784 and the elevation of jadeite to the lofty status of a form of true jade, held only by nephrite until that time.

Although very well hollowed, this bottle does not rank as one of the paper-thin, super-hollowed group, nor does it have the wide mouth that so many of that group have. But the hollowing and workmanship are excellent, achieved through a reasonable-sized mouth that is neither small nor large in relation to the lip. The formal integrity is also excellent, and the shape is elegant.

The dating of plain jadeite bottles of this type is difficult. They are rarely decorated with any stylistically identifiable subject, and we do not yet know when certain colours from Burma were made available to the Chinese lapidary. The form and hollowing of this bottle denote individual care and attention to detail, and although we have previously suggested that these more generous shapes, better hollowed and more elegantly formed, might be earlier than the standard, rather less well-hollowed oval examples, this may only apply to material of the highly valued emerald-green, jewellery variety, where the value of the stone eclipsed the importance of fine lapidary treatment.

 

 

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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