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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 2 

Lot 2


Lot 2
Treasury 6, no. 1157

Imperial Garden

Famille rose enamels on colourless glaze on porcelain; with a flat lip and convex oval foot; painted on each main side with a panel of the same composition of various auspicious flowers, including a blossoming gui tree, hibiscus, amaranthus, cockscomb, aster, begonia, mallow, and chrysanthemum, the panels surrounded by an iron-red formalized floral design; the foot inscribed in iron-red seal script, Qianlong nian zhi (‘Made during the Qianlong period’) enclosed within a double square; the lip painted gold; the glaze extending into the inner neck but leaving the interior unglazed
Imperial kilns, Jingdezhen, 1770–1799
Height: 6.7 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.62/1.73 cm
Stopper: jadeite

Lot 2 Provenance:
Robert Kleiner (1994)

Treasury 6, no. 1157

Christie’s, London, 1999 

Lot 2 Commentary
Radically flattened ovoid, spherical, or apple shapes with flared necks are a feature of the second half of the Qianlong reign and are continued into the Jiaqing period. It was not until the Daoguang reign that their popularity declined and more bulbous forms became dominant. The wares were usually made in sets, often of ten or twenty to a set, and many were decorated with floral designs to illustrate poems by the Qianlong emperor, which often appeared on the other main side. Because they bear both Qianlong and Jiaqing reign marks, we can, assuming uninterrupted production, date the Qianlong pieces to the second half of the reign and up to 1799. It is well accepted that on works for the retired emperor produced at the palace workshops after his abdication in 1796, the use of his reign mark was continued. That the same was true at Jingdezhen is proven by a record in the imperial archives for 1798 (tenth month, seventh day): an order for enamelled bowls, half to bear Qianlong reign marks, the other half Jiaqing reign marks.

In this case, the same floral design has been repeated on both main sides, but the style of floral decoration is very similar to those with an imperial poem on one side, suggesting that while this may be an earlier version of the standard type, it exhibits strong continuity with works from the late Qianlong and may itself be late. This supposition is supported by the unglazed interior. The initial shift from glazed to unglazed interiors seems to have taken place at some time during the second half of the Qianlong period, as mouths became smaller and interiors became functionally invisible. The fact that the inner neck is glazed here while the interior is not may suggest an intermediate stage. The existence of bottle of very similar design bearing a Jiaqing reign mark encourages us to push the dating of this bottle to the very last decades of the Qianlong reign (JICSBS, Spring 2006, front cover, left – from the Marakovic Collection). Another closely related bottle, with a very similar composition, also from the latter-part of the Qianlong reign, is in Hui and Sin 1994, no. 2.

The nine plants and flowers – guihua (Osmanthus fragrans), hibiscus, amaranthus, cockscomb, aster, begonia, mallow, and two differently coloured chrysanthemums – all thrive in the autumn, a season for harvest. They form a composite motif implicit with the saying Jiuqiu tongqing (‘[May all] celebrate [a bountiful harvest during] the ninety days of autumn’).


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Hugh Moss |