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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 86 

Lot 86

Lot 86
Treasury 6, no. 1276 (‘Symbolic Sons’)

Crackled colourless glaze on cobalt on beige porcelain; with a very-slightly convex lip and concave foot; painted under the glaze with a continuous scene of sixteen boys on a grass terrace surrounded by a low fence, fifteen of them holding a branch with a single peony bloom; the neck decorated with a band of formalized lingzhi; the unglazed foot carved with a series of concentric rings; the lip, inner neck, and interior glazed
Jingdezhen, 1790–1850
Height: 4.6 cm                                           
Mouth/lip: 0.72/1.65 cm                                               
Stopper: glass

Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd (1999)

Treasury 6, no. 1276

Despite its relative squatness, there are several links between this bottle and the pillar bottles represented by Sale 1, lot 134, suggesting a date from the earlier part of the century. It has the biscuit foot with concentric circles characteristic of the group and a widely flared neck with a broad, flat lip. If the height of the cylinder were doubled, and the children replaced by dragons, it would fit comfortably into the evolving group. The style and quality of the decoration also fit comfortably into the first half of the century, as does the material itself, which is of the huashi 滑石 type of beige porcelain that allowed better control of underglaze pigments and encouraged crackled glazes. This was a popular alternative ceramic body during the first half of the nineteenth century.

The neck border here is clearly formalized lingzhi, resembling, as usual, the head of a ruyi-sceptre, although the diffusion of the cobalt into the glaze obscures the design to some extent. The artist, however, knew what he was doing and why, and he did it right. Later, this same band devolves into barely recognizable strip of cross-like squiggles, perhaps because successive blurring of the detail in the firing process, such as we see here, gradually led to the simplification of the design and a loss of symbolic fluency, even if the audience still recognized the intention behind the pattern.


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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