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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 97 

Lot 97

Lot 97
Treasury 5, no. 989 (‘Imperial Bouquet’)
HK$825,000

Transparent ruby-red, emerald-green and golden-yellow, semi-transparent pale yellow, pink, and turquoise blue, and translucent white glass, with scattered small air bubbles; carved in the form of an eggplant, with a rounded circular lip made up of elements of the design; the calyx carved in the manner of a band of plantain leaves, carved about the body as a single overlay with a continuous design of nine different flowers growing from leafy branches, stems, or vines (camellia, Chinese trumpet creeper, pomegranate, orchid, morning glory, Osmanthus fragrans, cockscomb, chrysanthemum, and musk mallow), the base inscribed in engraved seal script, Qianlong yuzhi 乾隆御製 (‘Made by imperial command of the Qianlong emperor’)
Imperial, 1760 – 1799
Height: 7.48 cm
Mouth: 0.72 cm
Stopper: glass, carved as a calyx

Provenance:  
Parish Watson and Co. Inc., New York
Mr and Mrs Martin Schoen
Joseph Baruch Silver
Robert Hall (1995)

Published: 
Hall 1995, no. 12
Snuff Containers. A Little-known Artistic Craft of the World, p. 27
JICSBS, Spring 1994, p. 34
Sin, Hui, and Kwong 1996, no. 51
Treasury 5, no. 989

Exhibited:
China Institute in America, New York, December 1952 – January 1953, no. 27
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Winter 1987
Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1988
Robert Hall Gallery London, June 1995
Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, October 1996

The carving style relates this bottle to a group of multi-colour single overlays datable to the second half of the Qianlong period (Sale 6, lot 249 is another example). The group is characterized by the use of certain colours—including some rather alarming combinations of bright pink and turquoise blue—the predominance of floral motifs, colours being blended into one another, and a detailed style resulting in a busy, textured surface. Some are of lesser quality, suggesting that the workshop continued production well into the nineteenth century while the calibre of its wares fell. This noticeable decline in the standards of a single clearly-defined group may indicate a palace connection, since we know that the imperial glassworks suffered in this way during the first half of the nineteenth century. On the other hand, it may represent an instance of decline in a private workshop, perhaps as a result of sons taking over production without the benefit of their father’s skills.

This bottle, the baskets of flowers, and such masterpieces as Sale 4, lot 104 and Sale 6, lot 249 suggest an imperial connection. Evidence from the archives indicates that several Qing Emperors ordered certain bottles to be repeated. It is possible that the Qianlong emperor ordered this one to test a carver’s skills and, having approved it, ordered more of the same design but without the yuzhi mark. One other bottle, in a private collection in Florida, is almost identical to this but lacks the reign mark and can have come only from the same design/carving team.  

The stopper is an interesting idea but unlikely to be the original, since the continuation of the calyx is not matched to the bottle, and it is a little too large. Original stoppers invariably fitted the bottle very precisely and were generally matched to design.

 

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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