Meriem Collection Sale One / 696

The Meriem Collection. Lot 696

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**A WELL-CARVED SILHOUETTE AGATE SNUFF BOTTLE
1770-1860
Of flattened spherical form with slightly concave lip and recessed slightly convex foot,
one side with a thin plane of dark brown color cleverly used to create an image of
Meng Haoran riding a donkey and holding a prunus branch over his left shoulder as a
bat hovers nearby, all in contrast to the translucent pale grey stone, tourmaline stopper
with gilt-silver collar
5.2 cm. high
$10,000-12,000

P R O V E N A N C E :
The Wald Collection.

This bottle represents the silhouette style of agate carving but in a very rare miniature form. The
style usually requires cutting through much of a thin plane of darker material to leave a shallow,
silhouette design.

The subject of a sage on a donkey, sometimes followed by an attendant holding a branch of
prunus has been variously intepreted but Ka Bo Tsang has identified this particular figure as the
Tang-dynasty scholar, poet and recluse Meng Haoren, who was reputed to have admired prunus
blossoms. For a discussion of the identity of the rider depicted, see Ka Bo Tsang, “Who is the Rider
on the Donkey?”, JICSBS, Summer, 1994, pp. 4-16, fig. 14.

Compare the black and white jade Suzhou bottle carved with a similar design of the reclusive
poet, Meng Haoran, astride a donkey followed by his attendant on foot, sold in our London
rooms, 12 October 1987, lot 348 and cover, and now in the collection of Mary and George Bloch,
illustrated in Moss, Graham, Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 1, Jade, no. 130,
where a discussion of the story behind this scene is provided, p. 331. See, also, the black and
white jade Suzhou bottle carved with the same subject sold at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong,
16 November 1989, lot 13, and an example in white jade illustrated by H. White, Snuff Bottles
from China: The Victoria and Albert Museum Collection, London, 1992, p. 17, pl. 1.
1770–1860

The Meriem Collection. Lot 696

Hugh Moss |