Meriem Collection Sale One / 653

The Meriem Collection. Lot 653

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A RARE INSIDE-PAINTED GLASS SNUFF BOTTLE
SIGNED MA SHAOXUAN, BEIJING, DATED THIRD MONTH IN THE JIAZI
YEAR, CORRESPONDING TO 1904
Of rounded-rectangular form with flat lip and recessed convex
foot surrounded by a footrim, the interior finely painted on one
side with two squirrels looking at each other as they cling to
a grapevine laden with heavy clusters of pale blue and white
grapes, inscribed in regular script, “Third month of the jiazi year”
followed by the signature Shaoxuan zuo (Made by Shaoxuan),
with the seal Shao, the reverse with a poem by the Tang-dynasty
poet Li Bai followed by the signature Ma Shaoxuan, and the seal
Shao, tourmaline stopper with vinyl collar
5.7 cm. high
$18,000-22,000

P R O V E N A N C E :
Japan, 1966.
Bob C. Stevens.
Sotheby’s, New York, 25 June 1992, lot 223.
Hugh Moss Ltd.
E X H I B I T E D :
Canadian Craft Museum, Vancouver, 1992.
L I T E R A T U R E :
Mikimoto Catalogue, p. 103, no. 296.
B. Stevens, The Collector’s Book of Snuff Bottles, New York,
1976, no. 862.

The subject of squirrels and grapes, although a popular one in other
media such as coral, amber, jade and molded porcelain snuff bottles
from the nineteenth century, is rarely found in inside-painted snuff
bottles, and when it is they are usually by Ma Shaoxuan who painted
several versions of the subject during his career, usually coupled with
calligraphy on the other side. The squirrels and grapes design is
essentially the same and each is exquisitely painted in Ma’s
characteristically naturalistic style, with unusually realistic detail, shading
and attention to detail. Of the few recorded examples this is perhaps the
most delicately painted and effective version.

Three other examples by Ma include one dated to 1896 in the Russell
Mullin Collection, one illustrated by R. Kleiner, Chinese Snuff Bottles.
The White Wings Collection, p. 273, no. 190, and one from the Ko
Collection, dated to the same year as the present bottle, 1897. Another
example, but painted with birds on the reverse instead of calligraphy,
formerly from the J & J collection, was sold in these rooms, 30 March
2005, lot 38.

The poetic inscription, by Li Bai
(also known as Li Bo - 701-762),
can be translated as:

“As spring beckons us with misty
scenery and the universe affords us
pleasant views,
Now let us assemble here at the fragrant Peach Garden to enjoy each
other’s company.
- Preface to Poems Composed at a Spring Evening Banquet Held at the
Peach Garden.”

1904

The Meriem Collection. Lot 653

Hugh Moss |