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photographer E-Yaji.
Snuff Bottles from the Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part II  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 23 November 2010: Lot 8 

Lot 8

   

Lot 8
Treasury 7, no. 1516

Palace Nut

Walnut shell; with no functional foot; the naturally pitted surface smoothed and polished to resemble fruit, made explicit by the original stopper
Probably imperial, attributed to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1723–1800
Height: 5.57 cm (including original stopper)
Mouth: 0.68 cm
Stopper: ebony, carved as a stalk and calyx; original
Related paraphernalia: fitted case containing this bottle and Lot 9

Lot 8 Provenance:
Christie’s, Hong Kong, 22 March 1993, lot 520
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd (1993)

Published:
Zhao Ruzhen 1994, no. 153
Zhao Lihong 1996,p. 116
Treasury 7, no. 1516

Lot 8 Commentary
All three of the walnut snuff bottles in the Bloch Collection are rare masterpieces. It is easy enough to hollow out the nut and add a stopper, and this was done during the Qing dynasty to provide functional snuff bottles and in the twentieth century to fool collectors. There is not, however, another plain walnut bottle to match this one anywhere in existence, for three reasons: the spectacular patina and natural wear to the surface; the original stopper; and the fact that it is associated with Treasury 7, no. 1651 (Lot 9), and comes mounted in an old, specifically fitted box to contain the two.

The two represent a type produced for the court, and at the palace workshops, from the Yongzheng period into the Qianlong. No. 1651 is a likely eighteenth-century imperial bottle, matching one that survives to this day in the imperial collection in Beijing. What connects the two, other than their shared box, is the fact that both represent fruit forms while being made from two different natural materials. No. 1651 transforms a dwarf coconut into an eggplant; this one turns a walnut into what may be a gourd of some sort.

 

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