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photographer E-Yaji.
Snuff Bottles from the Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part I  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 May 2010: Lot 89 

Lot 89


Lot 89
Treasury 5, no. 748

Summer Clouds
Transparent sapphire-blue, opaque, dark cinnabar-red and colourless glass with surface crizzling and air bubbles of various sizes; with a flat lip and recessed, slightly convex foot surrounded by a protruding convex footrim; the foot engraved in seal script Qianlong nian zhi (Made during the Qianlong period)
Imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1736–1770
Height: 5.24 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.90/1.66 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Lot 89 Provenance:  
Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (1980)
Belfort Collection (1986)

JICSBS, December 1975, p. 12, nos. 51 and 52
Snuff Bottles of the Ch’ing Dynasty, p. 68, fig. 64  
Très précieuses tabatières chinoises, p.9, no. 77                 
Kleiner 1987, no. 62
Orientations, October 1987, front cover and p. 43, no. 11
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 62
Oriental Art, Spring 1994, p. 35
Kleiner 1995, no. 106
Snuff Bottles from the Collection of Mary and George Bloch (illustrated folder). Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July, 1997
Treasury 5, no. 748

Hong Kong Museum of Art, October–December 1978
L’Arcade Chaumet, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam, June–August 1982
Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
National Museum, Singapore, November 1994–February 1995
British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

Lot 89 Commentary
What must surely have been a moment of carelessness on the marvering surface has resulted in the intriguing, if unintentional, addition of one small spot of opaque red glass, high on one shoulder. A fragment of this colour must in some way have become scattered among the larger pieces of sapphire-blue glass that were to be rolled into the colourless gather. It is highly unlikely that the glassblower intended to include one single, tiny spot of a colour different from the others.

One of the most impressive and best known of a small group of colourless glass bottles with splashes of blue, it has been published so many times that it has inspired a series of copies. Most are unmarked, since while the glassblower could easily reproduce this colour combination, adding a convincing mark would almost certainly be beyond his skills. Such an addition would also require a skilled accomplice, and involve the risk of providing more clues regarding its true age.

The crizzling (discussed under Treasury 5, no. 686 and on p. 18) suggests that this might be from the earlier part of the reign. As a rule, the problems of crizzling were largely solved by the 1740s or 1750s and only a small quantity of Qianlong wares suffer from this problem. As we have seen with Treasury 5, no. 941, however, crizzling is sometimes found on glass from the last decade of the eighteenth century. These being exceptions to the general rule, it is perhaps more likely that crizzled wares bearing Qianlong marks come from the first half of the reign. Although regular-script marks were used throughout the reign, there was a tendency at its beginning towards archaism.   


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Hugh Moss |