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The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 90 

Lot 90

Lot 90
Treasury 1, nos. 153 and 158 (‘Prince Ding’s Spinach Jade’)
HK$100,000

Nephrite; extremely well hollowed, with a recessed foot incised in regular script Xingyouheng Tang 行有恒堂 (‘Hall of Constancy’)
1800–1854
Height: 5.46 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.52/1.75 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Condition Report: Workshop condition

Provenance:
Hugh M. Moss Ltd (Hong Kong, 1985)

Published:
Snuff Bottles of the Ch’ing Dynasty 1978, no. 176
Kleiner 1987, no. 33
Treasury 1, no. 153

Exhibited:
Hong Kong Museum of Art, October–December 1978
Sydney L. Moss Ltd, London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993

Associated Paraphernalia:
Treasury 1, no. 158 (‘Prince Ding’s Companion Snuff Dish’)
Nephrite; with a recessed foot
1770–1860
Diameter: 3.85 cm

Provenance:
Hugh M. Moss Ltd (Hong Kong, 1985)

Published:
Kleiner 1987, no. 33
Treasury 1, no. 158

Exhibited:
Sydney L. Moss Ltd, London, October 1987

The spinach-green material of this bottle is very similar to that of Sale 3, lot 7, which also bears the hall mark of Prince Ding. The stone is distinctive in its colouring, with very dark green, almost black flecking permeating it.

We noted under Sale 6, lot 108 that similar dark-green nephrite from the Lake Baikal area of Russia was imported after the mid-nineteenth century, when Yaqub Beg (d. 1877; Agubo 阿古柏 in Chinese) replaced Qing rule in the Tarim Basin and the nephrite trade dwindled. However, the material is also known from Mughal art of the fifteenth century, so it must have been a longstanding trade item. This colour of nephrite occurs elsewhere in the world, as well.

In fact, this bottle is one of the two known snuff bottles in this distinctive stone that bear the hall mark of the fifth Prince Ding (定郡王, Zaiquan 載銓 1794 – 1854), who was already dead when Yaqub Beg established his regime. (The other is Sale 3, lot 7.) Therefore, this particular material clearly predates the loss of Qing control in Chinese Turkestan.

The material for both Xingyouheng tang snuff bottles can only have come from the same source, and, with the unusually bright flecking in an emerald-green colour which appears in both (although to a greater extent in the other bottle), they may even have come from the same boulder or piece of mined material. The colour of these paler flecks comes as close to emerald-green as it is possible to get in nephrite, and under magnification it is seen to be made up of tiny spots and striations of almost opaque bright green forming larger patches.

The two bottles are superbly made, of excellent formal integrity, and extremely well hollowed, but other than that they are of entirely different shapes, and their details differ considerably. This one has a neat, recessed foot with an evenly rounded foot rim; the other has no foot rim at all, just a simple, flat base. One has a flared neck, the other a straight-sided cylindrical neck. One has a relatively narrow mouth, the other a relatively wide one.

The obvious conclusion is that whatever the evolution of such details in hardstone snuff bottles, by the first half of the nineteenth century a wide range of possible details was used, even on bottles probably produced by a single workshop.

This bottle has been accompanied for some time by this matching dish, which is in the same material, also with the brighter green flecks, but without a mark. Even before Treasury 1, no. 158, the two had already been published as a set (Kleiner 1987, no. 33), but whether or not this dish originally accompanied the bottle or was matched up at a later date may never be known.

 

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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