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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 32 

Lot 32

Lot 32
Treasury 5, no. 806 (‘Imperial Yellow Classic’)

Translucent yellow glass; with a flat lip and flat foot
Imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1700 – 1770
Height: 3.76 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.79/1.18 cm
Stopper: turquoise; vinyl collar

Hugh M. Moss Ltd, Hong Kong (1980)
Belfort Collection (1986)

JICSBS, December 1975, p. 10, fig. 39
Snuff Bottles of the Ch’ing Dynasty 1978, p. 66, fig. 59
Jutheau 1980, p. 60, fig. 4
Kleiner 1987,no. 69
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 67
Treasury 5, no. 806

Hong Kong Museum of Art, October – December 1978
L’Arcade Chaumet, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, June – August 1982
Sydney L. Moss Ltd, London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May – June 1993
Hong Kong Museum of Art, March – June 1994
National Museum of Singapore, November 1994 – February 1995

We have suggested that the paler yellow colour represented by this example and also Sale 4, lot 159 and Sale 5, lot 133 may be typical of the earlier phase of imperial glassmaking, even if it co-existed with a darker yellow. Kleiner also suggests that this bottle might be from the Yongzheng period, basing this opinion on a comparison with a Yongzheng-marked vase from the Edward Chow Collection (Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 19 May 1981, lot 608). We are as yet unconvinced regarding the reliability of this conclusion, since the illustration is in black and white, and Sotheby’s description claims it to be of a ‘rich egg yolk’ colour, a term usually reserved for the darker range of imperial yellow, but the Yongzheng period certainly remains a possibility. A more telling comparison is provided by a small cup (coincidentally from the same collection) bearing a Qianlong reign mark. It is of a shape that we know both from ceramics and from the series of cups purchased in Guangzhou in 1732 (see Sale 7, lot 66) to have been an early eighteenth century form (Chow 1988, pp. 22 and 23, no. G.2). From the colour illustration it appears to be of a similar pale yellow colour, and is probably from the earlier part of the Qianlong reign.

The relatively small size is common among early faceted bottles of this form. Smaller and chubbier than the Yongzheng-marked example of lot 94 in this auction, it is very similar in shape and size to Sale 3, lot 127 and Sale 6, lot 236, both of which can be dated with some confidence to the earlier part of the eighteenth century.

This one also features the typical wide mouth that leaves an unusually narrow lip and has surface patination on the foot remarkably similar to both the Yongzheng-marked bottle. It appears increasingly likely that this pleasantly dumpy, bulbous shape, with its wide mouth and crisp faceting, is a typical imperial-glassworks product of the decades from the late Kangxi into the Qianlong reign. While occasional later exceptions may exist, such dating should prove to be correct in most cases.


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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