Lot 29 Lot 30 Lot 31 Lot 32 Lot 33 Lot 34 Lot 35

photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 32 

Lot 32

Lot 32
Treasury 5, no. 984 (‘Streaking Dragons’)

Transparent golden-yellow, brown-streaked pale emerald-green, brown- streaked dark emerald-green, and translucent, streaky white glass, the first three with scattered air bubbles of various sizes; with a flat lip and recessed, slightly convex foot surrounded by a protruding flat foot rim; carved as a single overlay with a continuous design of four chi dragons, one apparently young beast, without hind legs, biting the tail of another
Height: 5.3 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.95/1.55 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

C.K. Liang (1980)
Gerd Lester (1986)

Kleiner 1995, no. 160
Treasury 5, no. 984

British Museum, London, June-October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July -November 1997

Overlay carvings demonstrating the highest quality were invariably produced as individual works of art, there being practically no repetition of specific compositions, although subjects, of course, are frequently repeated. There is perhaps no more common subject on what we assume to be imperial snuff bottles than the ubiquitous chi dragon, and while many chi-dragon bottles feature in the Bloch Collection, no composition is ever repeated.

The streaking of both tints of green here suggests a possible link with the other streaked glass bottles of Sale 2, lot 146; Sale 5, lot 97; and Sale 6, lot 245, for instance, and also with lot 158 in this auction, which represents a group we attribute to Yangzhou. Once streaked glass in overlays became not merely acceptable but fashionable, the concept could be adopted with ease by any workshop, for the technique involved is extremely simple. If streaking appeared on imperial bottles of the Qianlong period, private workshops would soon have learned about it and, equally quickly, have emulated it.

The subject matter here, however, indicates a courtly product, as endorsed by the yellow overlay, which is of the range of golden-yellow found on more readily recognizable imperial products of the Qianlong period and thereafter, Sale 8, lot 1081, and lot 147 in the present auction.

There are indications, however, that this may be from the mid-Qing period, perhaps the latter part of the Qianlong, but possibly also a little later. The ground plane undulates slightly and the matching of the foot rim shape to the overlay colour is compromised, exhibiting bleeding into the foot and uneven lines both inside and out, where the green meets the white ground—although the crisp cutting of the foot rim itself is excellent.

An intriguing hint of the production process is provided by the dark green tip of one flame-like extrusion from the body of the dragon nearest the foot rim. The green for the foot rim was obviously spread further up the body of the bottle than was necessary for the rim. Since it cannot have been part of the original design to have so tiny a tip at the end of an unimportant detail in a contrasting colour, we may assume that the glassmaker, when adding his three overlay colours, simply covered the entire area indiscriminately, leaving it to the carver to cut away any excess.


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=2286&exhibition=17&ee_lang=eng


Lot 29 Lot 30 Lot 31 Lot 32 Lot 33 Lot 34 Lot 35


Hugh Moss |