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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 54 

Lot 54

Lot 54
Treasury 5, no. 922 (‘Absent Sons’)
HK$27,500

Transparent sapphire-blue glass and transparent milky glass suffused with small air bubbles; with a flat lip and recessed, slightly convex foot surrounded by a protruding rounded foot rim; carved as a single overlay with a continuous scene of a man holding a walking staff crossing a plank bridge across a turbulent stream, followed by his attendant carrying his wrapped qin, both walking towards a country residence in which another man sits, apparently reading by lamplight, at a table while outside another attendant boils water for tea on a brazier which he is fanning in a rocky garden setting with a pine tree, plantain, and some bamboo
1730 – 1780
Height: 6.18 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.72/1.62 cm
Stopper: coral, sapphire finial; gold collar

Illustration: watercolour by Peter Suart

Provenance:
Robert Chang, Hong Kong (1980)
Gerd Lester (1986)

Published:
Kleiner 1987, no. 95
Illustrated London News, Summer 1990, p. 48
Orient Express Magazine, Summer 1990, p. 48
Prestige, Summer 1990, p. 48
Treasury 5, no. 922

Exhibited:
Sydney L. Moss Ltd, London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May – June 1993

This bottle, one of the broader group discussed under Sale 2, lot 69, introduces two distinctive elements for stylistic analysis. These are the plantain leaves, so beautifully and distinctively rounded and carved with considerable realism, and the pine-needle clusters, which are much more rounded and three-dimensional than is normal. The latter link Sale 3, lot 21 to the group.
This, together with Sale 7, lot 137, is a rare exception to the rule for what we believe to be early carved glass—and this group in particular—in that the overlay colour on the foot rim is not crisply confined to it. One area of the foot rim is in the ground colour here, while on Sale 7, lot 137 the blue runs slightly further up one side of the foot rim than the other.

On the best of glass overlays from the earlier phase of production, the degree to which the colour is so precisely matched to the foot rim while maintaining the formal integrity of the bottle is always impressive. The choices open to the carver regarding the shape and extent of his foot rim were limited, since the overlay colour was dictated by the glassblower. Occasionally, as in this case, problems must have arisen in achieving this difficult feat, but it is an extraordinary feature of these early masterpieces that the match of overlay to foot rim is so often faultless.

 

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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