Lot 150 Lot 151 Lot 152 Lot 153 Lot 154 Lot 155

photographer E-Yaji.
Snuff Bottles from the Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part II  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 23 November 2010: Lot 153 

Lot 153


Lot 153
Treasury 5, no. 843

Solid Loyalty

Transparent, golden-yellow glass, streaked and containing a few small air bubbles; with a concave lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim; carved on each main side with a formalized mallow flower, the narrow sides with mask-and-ring handles
Attributed to the imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1725–1800
Height: 4.4 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.67/1.65 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Lot 153 Provenance:   
Elisabeth and Ladislas Kardos
Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 1 July 1985, lot 37
Paula J. Hallett
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., Hong Kong (1986)

Kleiner 1995,no. 144
Treasury 5, no. 843

Centennial Museum, Vancouver, October 1977
British Museum, London, June-October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July-November 1997

Lot 153 Commentary  
The subtle streaking of the glass and the absence of the elongated bubbles or signs of manipulation that would indicate blown glass tell us that this bottle is carved from a block of glass. Although it has a typically Chinese design, dating back to the Song dynasty, the flower owes much to the formalized flower heads on Mughal and Turkish jades in the imperial collection. These were carved in a style closely resembling this example, complete with a distinctive high-relief lip round the edge of each petal. Although the motif was employed long before the snuff-bottle period, this particular style of carving may have something to do with the influence of imported jade carvings after 1756, possibly reinforcing our attribution to the palace workshops. We believe, however, that the bottle might be earlier. The mask-and-ring handles are of the standard type for a wide range of Qianlong jade and chalcedony carvings associated with the court, and the rings are both large and slightly ovoid (see discussion under lot 7 in this sale).

The mallow, kui, has many varieties. The one evoked here is probably huang shukui 黃蜀葵, Abelmoschus manihot, of the Malvaceae family. In English it is called hibiscus manihot or aibika. Its various parts can be used in medicine, but the fact that the flower ‘inclines its heart’ toward the sun and follows its course across the sky has long made it a symbol of loyalty. Mallow-form glass bottles, many of which have scalloped profiles to match the shape of the petals, were a standard type for Qing production, popular from the Qianlong period onwards. The superb technical control of the carving on this bottle is commensurate with others of the colour, and the detailing and finishing are both impeccable.


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Hugh Moss |