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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 100 

Lot 100

Lot 100
Treasury 5, no. 840 (‘Ogival Emerald’)
HK$187,500

Transparent emerald-green glass with a scattering of small air bubbles, some elongated; with a flat lip and recessed, flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat foot rim; carved with a continuous design of six ogival panels containing formalized floral designs, those on the narrow sides probably intended to be begonias, the shoulders with a band of lotus petals beneath a band of raised bosses, the upper neck-rim with a band of continuous leiwen (‘thunder pattern’), the foot inscribed in engraved regular script Qianlong nian zhi 乾隆年製 (‘Made in the Qianlong era’)
Imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1736 – 1799
Height: 6.3 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.7/1.2 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Illustration: watercolour by Peter Suart

Provenance:
Arthur Loveless
Elisabeth and Ladislas Kardos
Sotheby’s, New York, 1 July 1985, lot 36
Janos Szekeres
Sotheby’s New York, 5 June 1987, lot 42

Published:
JICSBS, Summer 1985, p. 2
JICSBS, Spring 1987, p. 1
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 73
Kleiner 1995,no. 110
JICSBS, Winter 2000, p. 12, fig. 34
Treasury 5, no. 840

Exhibited:
Vancouver Centennial Museum, October 1977
Hong Kong Museum of Art, March – June 1994
National Museum of Singapore, November 1994 – February 1995
British Museum, London, June – October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July – November 1997

During the 1760s the Qianlong emperor, having amassed a large quantity of jade carvings from Mughal India and the Ottoman Empire, set up his own palace workshops to replicate the style. The influence on other palace arts was noticeable, but there is a danger in assuming that anything with formalized floral designs similar to those of the imported jades must have been influenced by them. Floral meanders were standard on Ming and Qing porcelain wares, including many similar to the traditional Northern Indian equivalents. Trade between the Ottoman Empire and China in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries resulted in considerable export of blue-and-white and also copper-red decorated ceramics. Many of these were made specifically to suit their market, and incorporated such formalized floral designs. Together with other floral motifs, the so-called ‘Indian lotus’ design became firmly established as a part of Chinese ceramic art from that time onwards. The Qianlong emperor’s keen interest in Mughal and Turkish jade carvings is clearly reflected in some palace arts from the 1760s onwards, but it would not be safe to assume this applies to any scrolling floral motif.

The form here is a modified meiping 梅瓶 (‘prunus-blossom vase’) typical of the palace workshops, the ogival tops to the vertical panels probably being the result of matching the panels to the pointed ends of the inverted lotus petals on the shoulders, rather than indications of Mughal influence. The floral designs are not particularly Indian in style, similar motifs being found on a wide range of painted enamels on metal and glass from the Kangxi to early Qianlong period, long before Mughal nephrite carvings were introduced to the emperor. More difficult to dismiss as coincidence, however, is the manner in which the panels curve sharply outwards at the base, resembling some of the delicate carving on Mughal jades.

Evidence that the bottle is blown is supplied by the light weight and oval air bubbles round the neck, all orientated away from the direction of the blow-iron. It gives the appearance of having been carved partly because the inside has been frosted by the lapidary, as was Sale 4, lot 92, but the interior shape retains the perfectly rounded contours of a blown form. The colour also imitates beryl. This example is the typical emerald-green of the imperial glassworks—although it might also have been made elsewhere.

One of the more spectacular of known Qianlong glass bottles, this bottle has been copied during the past ten years. It is also sufficiently rare and impressive that a small chip out of the foot rim, which has existed ever since it was first recorded, detracts barely at all from its appeal. Once a work of art achieves this level of excitement, it can exhibit minor faults with indifference. The chip is small and could long since have been invisibly removed—albeit at the cost of the subtle flare to the foot rim to match the outward movement of the bases of the panels—but no one has bothered. Like a surviving duellist, it carries its scar with pride.

 

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.

 

Easy link to this page: http://www.e-yaji.com/auction/photo.php?photo=2209&exhibition=14&ee_lang=eng


  
  

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Hugh Moss |