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The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 2 

Lot 2

Lot 2
Treasury 5, no. 807 (‘The White Wings Faceted Realgar’)
HK$75,000

Opaque variegated scarlet and orange glass (known as ‘realgar- glass’); with a flat lip and flat foot; the two main sides with raised, faceted oval panels surrounded by further faceting
Imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1700-1770
Height: 3.79 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.90/1.21 cm
Stopper: glass of ‘official’s hat’ shape with integral finial and collar

Provenance:
White Wings Collection
Robert Kleiner (1998)

Published:
JICSBS, June 1977, p. 10, no. 21
Kleiner, 1994a, pl. 6
Kleiner 1997, no. 36
Treasury 5, no. 807

Two glorious faceted palace glass bottles in realgar glass stand head and shoulders above the rest for sheer oomph. Of a predominantly orange colour, they can be dated to the first half of the eighteenth century and feature a wide mouth. They also share an infinitely more exciting quality, for both are capable of adrenalizing the emotions (at least of a realgar-glass enthusiast) to a degree that defies explanation on the grounds of mere physical attributes. The other bottle, now in the Crane Collection, is a little taller than this one; it has a convex oval panel instead of a faceted panel on each main side, but the material is remarkably similar.

The glorious swirling orange material, though lacking the brightly contrasting ruby-reds and yellows typical of so many examples of realgar-glass, seems to have been an early favourite, even though it is relatively rare.

This exquisite bottle, of the relatively small size common to many of these earlier faceted examples, features a wide mouth and is very crisply carved with faceting well controlled formally. We suggested that Sale 2, lot 23, must have been blown into a faceted mould because the thin surface colour existed evenly on all the facets. Quite the reverse is true here; there is no indication of faceting visible from the inside, so it was probably blown into a non-faceted mould to leave thick walls, with faceting left entirely to the lapidary. This seems borne out by the fact that the brighter red colouring, usual at the surface of realgar glass, is found only at those points where the least cutting away of material would take place.

 

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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