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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 43 

Lot 43

Lot 43
Treasury 5, no. 900 (‘Profitable Carp’)

Transparent ruby-red and slightly milky glass, both suffused with air bubbles of various different sizes; with a naturalistic mouth and flat foot made up of elements of the design; carved as a single overlay in the form of a carp with a lotus leaf and aquatic grass
Height: 7.18 cm
Mouth: 0.56 cm
Stopper: glass, in the form of a lotus pod

Marian Mayer
Doyle New York, 29 October 1981, lot 251
Gerd Lester (1986)

Mayer and Moss 1980, no. 36
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994,no. 108
Treasury 5, no. 900

Steuben Glass, New York, September-October 1980
Hong Kong Museum of Art, March-June 1994
National Museum, Singapore, November 1994 – February 1995

Although cameo-overlays are usually carved in distinct planes, each defined by a contrasting colour, in this rare variant the overlay is used in a more abstract manner. This style is ideal for naturalistic subjects such as flora and fauna, where the form becomes the subject.

One of the best of the group, this probably dates from the Qianlong period, but we would hesitate to narrow it down further within the reign. The overlay is of the dark colour of Sale 8, lot 1002, and Sale 9, lot 178, which we believe date from the first half of the reign, and while the crisp, confident carving would not conflict with this, it could have been made later.

The use of the overlay is extremely skilful, permitting the fish’s tail and the lotus stems and aquatic grasses to remain distinct. Random though the blend of colours may appear, the positioning in the colourless plane of the fish’s mouth and underbelly and of the inner areas of the lotus leaves is surely too effective and too deliberate to be relegated to the realm of chance.


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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Hugh Moss |