Meriem Collection Sale One / 682

The Meriem Collection. Lot 682

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Of compressed pear form with flat lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a
footrim, well carved on one main side with a boy riding a water buffalo beside a tree
growing near a natural rock formation, the other main side with a groom lounging
beneath a tree watching his horse rolling on its back, the scene set below the seal of the
designer Xiaomei, the narrow sides with mask and elongated-oval ring handles, all
reserved on the translucent white ground, glass stopper with garnet finial
5.7 cm. high

P R O V E N A N C E :
Hugh Moss Ltd.
L I T E R A T U R E :
JICSBS, Spring 1993, back cover.

It is very unusual to find a bottle bearing the name “Xiaomei”, which was the sobriquet of Wang
Su (1794-1877), a prominent literatus and painter from the Yangzhou area. His name appears on
a small group of bottles from the Li Junting School, including one in the Bloch Collection (Moss,
Graham, Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 5, Glass, no. 1046, where the connection
between Li and the School is explored). Other examples with his name include one from the Mack
Collection illustrated in R. Kleiner, Precious Playthings: Important Chinese Snuff Bottles from the
Mack Collection, no. 34, which also bears a seal dating it to 1836.

While unmistakably in the style of Li Junting, the range of quality of this group of bottles is broad.
One interpretation put forth in the discussion by Moss, Graham and Tsang about the Bloch
example is that Wang, who spent his life in Yangzhou, may have been artistically involved in glass
production during his youth, and may have provided the designs produced by Li and his fellow
workers. It is also put forth that being a known seal carver, Wang may have also developed
lapidary skills, and may have carved some of the bottles he designed, which would account for the
anomalies in the range in quality of the bottles. Another alternative is that the Li School may have
adapted paintings by Wang as a source of subject matter, as it was common enough practice to
copy paintings, complete with inscriptions, signature and seals onto literati playthings.

The cowherd riding a buffalo is intended to evoke the natural life of the countryside, to which so
many busy urban scholars aspired, while the unsaddled horse can evoke the concept of potential,
drawing a parallel between the scholar who has successfully passed his examinations and is about
the embark on life as an official.

The Meriem Collection. Lot 682

Hugh Moss |