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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 33 

Lot 33

Lot 33
Treasury 6, no. 1229 (‘The Family Line’)
HK$37,500

Black, brownish-black and creamy-white glaze on beige porcelain; moulded in the form of a bunch of grapes resting on two grape leaves and surmounted by a squirrel, which embraces the treasure with his paws and tail, a stem from the leaves curling up his left side; brownish-black rings delineating the eyes, the pupils of which are black
Jingdezhen, 1785–1830
Length: 7.38 cm
Mouth: 0.6 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; gilt-bronze collar

Illustration: watercolour by Peter Suart

Provenance:
Robert Hall (1987)

Published:
Hall 1987, no. 63
Treasury 6, no. 1229

One of the more popular naturalistic forms found in early moulded porcelain bottles and well into the nineteenth century is the squirrel-and-grapes form. Squirrels (basically rats with good public relations) are fecund creatures, reproducing in litters, and grapes are another obvious symbol of fertility, with their multiple fruit growing in a single bunch and a single vine providing so many bunches. Symbolism aside, this bottle and others like it possess great appeal in their compact, functional, and attractive form.

This model enjoyed unusual longevity; it was produced from the last decades of the eighteenth century through to the late Qing dynasty. Even this early model is known from a number of different moulds (mentioned in the Treasury 6 commentary to this bottle).

This cream-coloured glaze appears to have been popular from the 1780s into the Jiaqing period, although similar creamy glazes were used on earlier eighteenth-century ceramic articles other than snuff bottles. Whether the dab of black added directly onto the biscuit to depict the eyes is enamel or glaze is difficult to judge here, as it is on a number of mid-Qing bottles where such details are added in black. On Sale 4, lot 134, which has a similar colour added to the biscuit eye, it might be glaze, since black enamel is also used in the decoration there and is quite different; it also seems to have been fired together with the white glaze of the body, since the two run into each other at one point.

 

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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