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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 5 

Lot 5

Lot 5
Treasury 6, no. 1402 (‘Boxed Daoist’)
HK$575,000

Pale-yellow and black glazes on porcelain; with a flat lip and naturalistic foot made up of elements of the design; carved in the form of Hu Gong 壺公 leaning on his stick, his gourd tied over one shoulder with a lingzhi held against it by the cord, the mouth of the gourd forming that of the bottle; the foot engraved with the signature in seal script Jinzhuo 進拙 (?); all exterior surfaces covered with yellow glaze; the pupils of the eyes in black; the interior unglazed
Jinzhuo (?), Jingdezhen, 1830–1880
Height: 6.75 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.4/1.47 cm
Stopper: coral; vinyl collar

Related paraphernalia: fitted box, covered in figured, brown silk brocade; wood stand

Provenance:
Robert Hall (1993)

Published:
Kleiner 1995, no. 237
JICSBS, Winter 2000, p. 16, fig 50
Treasury 6, no. 1402

Exhibited:
British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

This and Sale 5, lot 145, of the same subject, come closest of all known carved porcelain figural snuff bottles to the carved porcelains of the nineteenth century. Both are obviously related in subject, scale, and quality to Sale 8, lot 1024, where we offered reasons for a late-nineteenth century date, the suggestion that the name (it that is what it is) on the bottom might be Jinzhuo 進拙 (Jinwei 進烓 is another possibility, but produces no breakthroughs), and recounted the story of Hu Gong. (The gourd and the staff also belong to the immortal Li Tieguai 李鐵拐, but Li is usually depicted as an emaciated beggar.)

The fact that access to the interior through the gourd is not at all convenient for a snuff taker suggests that the bottle may have been made for a collector’s market, not for use—although this would not alter the dating range, since such wares were produced from the Daoguang period onwards. The period is incidental other than as an academic concern, however, for it is eclipsed by the extraordinary quality of both sculpture and detail. We accept that it is old without worrying too much about precisely how old.

This is the finest of the carved-porcelain figural bottles, the one that is in a class with the best works of the more famous carvers. As with their wares, a two-part mould defined a basic shape that the artist then finished with a great deal of surface carving. The mould joint is clearly visible on the unglazed interior.

 

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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