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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 60 

Lot 60

Lot 60
Treasury 5, no. 767
HK$168,000

Crizzled Moon
 
Slightly opalescent, transparent, milky white glass with a few scattered, small air bubbles, extensively crizzled on the interior surface; with a concave foot; carved high on one main side with a strap-handle for a suspension cord
Attributed to the imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1700–1760
Height: 4.92 cm
Mouth: 0.69
Stopper: coral, carved as a calyx or twig

Lot 60 Provenance:  
Wing Hing (Hong Kong, 1985)    

Published:         
Kleiner 1987, no. 77
Treasury 5, no. 767

Exhibited:
Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May-June 1993

Lot 60 Commentary    
Obviously blown, possibly without the use of a mould, a main feature of this bottle is the small, carved strap-handle for a suspension cord. The simplicity of form is very effective and the carver’s hand is seen, other than in the strap-handle, only in the simple concavity of the foot and polishing of the outer surface (the inside may be a fire-polish, but is so crizzled as to obscure any evidence of it). The end result is a unique form, simple and elegant, which, while not quite as comfortable in the hand as the compressed ovoid of Treasury 5, no. 701, is a delight to the eye.

Apart from the extreme rarity of form, its crizzling is an intriguing and informative feature which went unnoticed on its last published outing. It might possibly have been overlooked once again, had it not been necessary to insert a small light into each bottle to check colour, degree of transparency, and bubble-structure. White glass, even that from the Kangxi period, does not seem to have suffered from the chemical imbalance that caused crizzling (see under Treasury 5, no. 686) and yet here it is extensively crizzled. The answer may well lie in its transparency, suggesting perhaps a high content of the colourless glass which was among the colours most affected by crizzling in the early years of the imperial glassworks. This feature allows us not only to attribute the bottle tentatively to the court but to assume a relatively early date, with the caveat that there were probably a number of causes of crizzling, not all of which stemmed from a poor balance of ingredients (see Treasury 5, p.18).

We have noted elsewhere that glass snuff bottles frequently appear to be crizzled only on their interior surface, although close examination often reveals some exterior crizzling (see under Treasury 5, no. 752). In this case, however, there is a good reason for it being confined to the interior, regardless of whether it was originally a feature on both surfaces. The bottle has been repolished, presumably at a time before this phenomenon was recognized as being an important clue to dating and a positive, rather than negative phenomenon in Chinese glass.

 

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