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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 95 

Lot 95

Lot 95
Treasury 5, no. 901 (‘Windswept Gourds’)
HK$125,000

Transparent ruby-red glass and translucent white glass, with a few small air bubbles, some elongated; carved in the form of a double gourd, with a flat lip; the surface decorated as a single overlay with a continuous design of a severed leafy gourd vine, growing with nine further double gourds
1725 – 1770
Height: 5.53 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.60/.93 cm
Stopper: glass, carved as a simplified calyx

Provenance:
Mrs Elmer A. Claar
Parke-Bernet, New York, 2 December 1969, lot 1
Reif Collection
Christie’s, New York, 18 October 1993, lot 176

Published: 
Kleiner 1995,no. 154
Treasury 5, no. 901

Exhibited:
British Museum, London, June – October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July – November 1997

This magnificent bottle represents a group characterized by similar design and subject matter, in which a key feature is the high-flying relief of certain elements of the design, the foot being formed by some of them. Many of the recorded versions in this group appear on double-gourd-shaped bottles with a foot composed of protruding, relief design elements. They range in quality from this one—by far the finest we have seen—to some quite crudely carved, indicating the same idea being repeated so often it has become mere decoration.

This bottle seems likely to be an early masterpiece, the glass equivalent of palace- enamelled porcelain gourds, in which case we can date it to the first half of the Qianlong period or the mid-reign, at the latest, which would allow for the related peach bottle, Sale 5, lot 106, to date from the same period.

Apart from the consummate skill exhibited in this bottle’s sculptural qualities, the design is magnificent. A superlative example of painting transferred to glass, every element, every leaf and gourd, every line is vital, carefully thought out, and individually observed. The windswept vine is a masterpiece of depiction and, equally, an artistic masterpiece. A wonderful moment of calm in this dynamic subject is provided by the lovely touch of taking three lower, larger gourds straight down to form the feet—a feature evidently carefully considered in terms of realism as well as artistic conception. These larger, heavier gourds would not be disturbed by the wind to the same extent but, regardless of that, the solid, supporting counterpoint they provide to the composition is nothing short of brilliant.

 

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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