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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 26 

Lot 26

Lot 26
Treasury 1, no. 60 (‘Elongated Lizhi’)
HK$60,000

Nephrite of pebble material; well hollowed and carved in the form of an elongated lizhi 荔枝 with a smaller fruit growing from a severed leafy branch
1740–1860
Height: 7.45 cm
Mouth: 0.67 cm
Stopper: coral, carved as bird clinging to a segment of bamboo, cut from a broken pendant and including drilled holes for a suspension cord

Provenance:
Robert A. Hall (London, 1993)
Hugh M. Moss Ltd (Hong Kong, 1993)

Published:
Treasury 1, no. 60

The lizhi (lychee in the West) is a relatively rare fruit in the snuff-bottle world, occurring far less frequently than eggplants, gourds, melons, pomegranates, and peaches. It was briefly popular on late-Ming lacquer and metalwork but is unusual on other jade carvings, although one or two brushwashers in the form are known, including a spectacular example in the Seattle Art Museum (see Seattle Art Museum, Watt, and Knight 1989, no. 52).

The elongation of the main fruit is a clever formal element creating an intriguing abstract form. The patterned surface stands for the regular markings on the surface of the real fruit but they are simplified and turned into an abstract design that is cleverly contrasted on the larger and smaller fruits, running in different directions and on a different scale. Despite the seeming simplicity of the pattern, each raised area between the crosshatching is carefully rounded and painstakingly carved, giving much greater surface appeal.

As abstract form, the juxtaposition of the two fruits is also carefully considered and powerful. The markings from the skin of the pebble have been cleverly used, allowing three layers of colour, with the brown skin as a focal point in the centre of each fruit, giving the impression of greater three-dimensionality, particularly in the rather flattened smaller fruit.

Apart from its visual qualities, the bottle is a delight in the hand; it also works lying flat on a table or standing upright.

 

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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