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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 36 

Lot 36

Lot 36
Treasury 6, no. 1185 (‘Palace Pouch’)

Colourless glaze on cobalt on porcelain; with a convex lip; painted in underglaze-blue on each main side with a panel of formalized floral design and on the narrow sides with similarly framed panels, one with blossoming prunus branches, the other with bamboo; the lip and interior unglazed
Possibly imperial, Jingdezhen, 1770–1820
Height: 4.18 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.61 x 0.61/0.95 x 0.95 cm (of slightly bulging square shape)
Stopper: gilt bronze, chased with a formalized floral design, made from half a garment button

Robert Kleiner (1994)

Treasury 6, no. 1185

This very rare shape for a snuff bottle also occurs in an early-eighteenth century enamel-on-metal bottle made at the palace workshops and still in the imperial collection (Li Jiufang 2002, no. 34, and Xia Gengqi 1995, no. 8). The enamelled version is reasonably dated to the Yongzheng period despite the absence of a reign mark, but in any case cannot be later than early Qianlong. The design there is much clearer, while the present example is a devolved version with barely recognizable scrolling peonies and other auspicious flowers in the two main panels. On the palace version, the narrow-side panels are also filled with similar scrolling flowers, whereas here they are replaced by prunus and bamboo. Given the existence of the earlier bottle and the rarity of the form, we can be fairly certain that this was inspired either by the enamelled version or by something else like it.

The nature of the blue-and-white decoration would allow for an eighteenth-century date, and the unglazed interior would be appropriate for the late-Qianlong or Jiaqing periods. Its obvious origin in an earlier eighteenth-century object that was in the imperial collection suggests that the object itself has imperial origins, probably as part of an effort on the part of the Qianlong emperor, late in his reign, to innovate by reviving and improving upon models of past excellence. Whenever it was made, it remains an intriguing rare form.


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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