Meriem Collection Sale One / 646

The Meriem Collection. Lot 646

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Of compressed form with flat lip and a recessed foot surrounded by a footrim, well
carved with a continuous scene of twelve magpies in flight or perched amidst the
blossoming branches of a gnarled prunus tree rising from the oval footrim, the blossoms
carved from the cinnabar-red overlay in contrast to the dark green birds and branches
reserved on the transparent flashed-pink ground, carnelian stopper with vinyl collar
6.4 cm. high

P R O V E N A N C E :
Hugh Moss Ltd.
E X H I B I T E D :
Canadian Craft Museum, Vancouver, 1992.

This bottle is a very rare example of Chinese flashed glass, where a thin layer of color is added to
the colorless glass, giving the impression that the entire ground is monochrome pink. See
Christie’s, Hong Kong, 1 November 1994, lot 1215 for another example of a flashed reddish-pink
glass snuff bottle. This rarely-used technique was usually confined to monochrome wares, nearly
always of ruby-red color. It is extremely rare to find it as the ground for a cameo overlay carving,
and its combination with this rare double overlay with cinnabar-red on green appears to be unique.

This combination of opaque cinnabar-red and transparent green as a double overlay is found on
snuff bottles attributed to the Li Junting school in the mid-Qing period (see Moss, Graham, Tsang,
A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 5, Glass, nos. 1012-14 for Li-school bottles, where nos.
1012-14 and 1017 have red-on-green overlay on various colored grounds).

The prunus and bird motif was also popular in the late Qianlong period; for two examples on
a yellow ground, see M. Hughes, The Blair Bequest. Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Princeton
University Art Museum, pp. 124-5, nos. 144 and 146. Another example with red overlay on a
bubble-suffused ground is illustrated by Moss, Graham, Tsang, op. cit., no. 896. Magpies and
prunus form a rebus for happiness, and when twelve magpies are shown, it is a wish for happiness
during all twelve months of the year.

The Meriem Collection. Lot 646

Hugh Moss |