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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 8 

Lot 8

Lot 8
Treasury 1, no. 32 (‘The Szekeres Lotus’)
HK$375,000

Flawless nephrite, well hollowed; carved with a design of formalized lotus leaves emerging from a slightly recessed severed stem at the foot, the surrounding smaller band of petals acting as a foot rim
Possibly imperial, perhaps palace workshops, 1740–1820
Height: 5.7 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.6/2.1 and 2.0 cm (oval)
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Provenance:
Janos Szekeres
Sotheby’s, New York, 27 October 1986, lot 127

Published:
Treasury 1, no. 32

The foot detail on this bottle is unusual, giving the impression of a calyx with much smaller leaves radiating from a central point where the stem of the flower has been cut, but it is probably no more than an unusual detail in formalizing the lotus petals. There are a number of different varieties of lotus, some with fewer and larger petals, the largest being outside and encompassing the smaller ones on the inside as they close up during their daily cycle, and others with more and smaller petals. The intention here, however, is probably to formalize the petals in the same way as is done on the pedestals of Buddhist religious objects.

Like basket-weave snuff bottles that have the neck of the bottle emerging from the
basket, the design here is intended to double as a lotus-petal form and as a snuff bottle enclosed within lotus petals, which is the standard for this design. The design is also found in other materials, notably glass.

This example has unusual depth to the carving and, consequently, more three-dimensionality to the petals than some other examples. The foot is incorporated as part of the design, as on Sale 6, lot 149, with its calyx-like small band of petals creating a naturalistic foot rim. This is standard for the jade examples, but in other materials is unusual, the foot often being made a continuation of the upward-pointing lotus leaves or made of a curling lotus-leaf stem supporting a leaf around the base of the bottle.
The carving of each individual petal is extremely painstaking here, with a carefully rounded profile edged by a distinct lip to each petal to flare it out at the edges, adding very considerably to the textural dimension of this rather formal bottle. All of the other jade examples quoted have somewhat similar features and all are imposing and probably from the same workshops, perhaps at the palace. These workshops come immediately to mind when glass and hardstone bottles appear to follow identical design concepts and carving style.

 

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Hugh Moss |