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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1016 

Lot 1016
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Lot 1016
Treasury 5, no.906 (‘Mysterious Bats’)

Transparent ruby-red and colourless glass; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat foot rim; carved as a single overlay but in double-overlay style, allowing for different intensities of the overlay colour, with a continuous design of five bats flying in front of formalized clouds
Height: 4 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.60/1.46 cm
Stopper: glass; gilt-silver collar

Robert Kleiner (1994)

Treasury 5, no.906

An abiding puzzle about this extraordinary bottle relates to the technique of using different thicknesses of the same colour to create the effect of a double overlay with only a single upper plane of colour. By cutting the thick layer of ruby-red on two planes, the lapidary has created a magnificent effect of bats flying in front of much paler clouds. This technique is extremely rare, but in artistic terms enormously effective, hence the puzzle: why was it not utilized more often? It was easier than carving a standard double overlay (which we know became popular during the mid-Qianlong period), since no contrasting colour dictated the depth of carving. The glassblower’s task would also be simpler, since only a single layer of overlay is needed, and that layer need not be any thicker than the standard early depth of overlay found in Sale 3, lot 21, Sale 4, lot 121, Sale 5, lot 63, Sale 6, lot 205, and lot 1002 in the present auction . Apart from the rarity of the method and its unusual form, nothing about the bottle would rule out the imperial glassworks and a Qianlong attribution, possibly from the mid-reign. The artistry and technical quality are unsurpassed, the foot is as crisp, confident, and perfectly delineated by the overlay colour as it could possibly be, and the tiny contrasting upper-neck rim is not only among the most delicate in the entire medium but also achieved with enormous confidence and skill. We believe that this is an example of the height of the art and the work of the finest of glass carvers.

The bats are surely among the finest in the medium, individually conceived, superbly lifelike, and impeccably carved. The under layer of soft, palest ruby-red clouds is executed in masterly fashion, helping to make this another of the transcendent masterpieces of glass carving in the collection.


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.


Easy link to this page: http://www.e-yaji.com/auction/photo.php?photo=1936&exhibition=13&ee_lang=eng


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