Lot 62 Lot 63 Lot 63 Lot 63 Lot 63 Lot 63 Lot 63

photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part III  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 25 May 2011: Lot 63 

Lot 63

 
   

Lot 63
Treasury 5, no. 1045

An inscribed olive-brown glass overlay ‘hunter and fisherman’ snuff bottle

(‘The Sun Hunter’)

Translucent pale olive-brown and translucent white glass; with a flat lip and recessed, convex foot surrounded by a protruding, flattened footrim; carved as a single overlay on one main side with an equestrian archer, followed by his dog as he awaits the fall of a wild goose he has just shot, with a seal in relief, positive seal script, Sun zuo (‘Made by Sun’), the other main side with a fisherman in a boat landing a fish, with a foreground of reeds and two birds flying above him, the narrow sides both inscribed in relief seal script constituting a single inscription, ‘In the third month of the year dingmao Jifang commissioned Sun Shihua to make [this]’
Sun Shihua probably Yangzhou, 1867
Height: 6.89 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.5/1.48 cm
Stopper: coral; plastic collar

Lot 63 Provenance:
Private English collection (reputedly purchased in the 1950s and 1960s)
S. Marchant & Son
Robert Kleiner (June 1992)
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., Hong Kong (1992)

Published:
Lawrence 1993, pp. 10 and 11, figs. 28 and 30
JICSBS, Autumn 1995, p. 7, fig. 14
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 128
Kleiner 1995,no. 172
JICSBS, Winter 2000, p. 18, fig. 592
Treasury 5, no. 1045
Moss and Sargent 2011, fig. 34

Exhibited:
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 63 Commentary
For an account of the pictorial antecedents of the hunting scene, see Sale 1, lot 98. There are many other possible sources of inspiration for the glass versions, however, including one that is also associated with Yangzhou. In the Jiajing period of the Ming dynasty, a famous Yangzhou artist, Zhou Zhu, produced inlaid zitan boxes and other wares, several of which are decorated with Mongol equestrian hunt scenes (see, for instance, Sydney L. Moss Ltd. 1999, no. 62, dated to 1537). Often included in such hunt scenes is a goose with an arrow embedded in its rear. Paul Moss, who wrote the catalogue, quotes a Qing writer (Qian Yong) who states that, in his day, Zhou’s works could be found only in Yangzhou. It may be that Sun Shihua and Hua Yan were all basing works on a well-established Yangzhou subject, to which they gave their own individual expression.

Leaving aside the source of the subject, we confess being deeply puzzled by this lone, anomalous work by Sun Shihua. Why have we found nothing else bearing his name, nor anything else in this particular style. To achieve this level of skill in glass carving, he must have produced many other works before this one and, presumably, others thereafter. Where are they? The only bottles relating to it at all are modern forgeries, apparently inspired by the published image of this one. It may be that Sun Shihua was a skilled jade carver pressed into service as a glass carver by his patron, Jifang, to work on a blank produced by the same Yangzhou workshops that later made the Yunting snuff bottles of Li Peisong. (We say ‘later’ because Jifang, whom we have now identified as the art collector Chen Shijin, died at the age of 50 in 1867, three or four years before Li Peisong and Li Peizhen moved to Yangzhou. See Moss and Sargent 2011.) Skilled hardstone carvers would experience no difficulty in switching to glass, and this scenario would allow a reason for this apparently solitary work in glass by Sun being of such superb quality.

A modern copy of this bottle, made by the Yuen family of Tianjin, is illustrated in JICSBS, Spring, 1997, p. 17, figs. 68-71.

 

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