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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 77 

Lot 77

Lot 77
Treasury 6, no. 1413 (‘Commemorating Independence’)

Famille rose enamels on colourless glaze on porcelain; with a convex lip and recessed flat foot; painted on one main side with the Great Seal of the United States of America (an eagle clutching an olive branch and a sheaf of arrows, with a crested shield in front of it decorated with stripes, and an arc overhead), the other main side with five floral sprays; the neck with a lower band of formalized floral design; the lip with traces of original gilding; the foot and interior glazed
Porcelain: Jingdezhen, 1874–1876
Decoration: probably Guangzhou, 1874–1876
Height: 6.1 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.70/1.22 cm
Stopper: coral; silver collar

Hong Kong Auctioneers & Estate Agency, 15 January 1993, lot 344
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd (1993)

Kleiner 1995, no. 222
Treasury 6, no. 1413

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

Once American ships began trading at Guangzhou in the mid-Qing period, a range of porcelain wares was decorated with subjects suited to their market. Howard and  Ayers 1978, pp. 499–513, make a convincing case for this particular design having been made to commemorate the 1876 centenary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in the U.S., suggesting a fairly specific date of production. If ordered for export, they would have been made long enough before the centenary to allow for shipping time and then discontinued; if the initiative came from the Chinese side, production could have begun later and ended less abruptly.

This bottle was probably enamelled at Guangzhou; it is decorated in a distinctive palette similar to other wares thought to have been decorated there. The colouring is typical of a late-Qianlong group of export wares made that favoured the predominance of an unlikely combination of brown, iron-red and pink.

The Chinese enamellers obviously had some trouble understanding the design they were given. The band at the shoulders seems based on an American floral scrolling stencil design but has been reduced to a series of incoherent squiggles and splashes of enamel.

Although larger vessels from this commemorative series are well known, the snuff bottles are extremely rare. Their rarity is partly obscured by a group of modern fakes made with a similar design in the 1970s. For one of the twentieth-century copies, see Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 28 April 1997, lot 54.


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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