Meriem Collection Sale One / 705

The Meriem Collection. Lot 705

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The semi-translucent white glass bottle of double gourd form
with flat lip and recessed foot, finely painted in famille rose
enamels with an allover design of blossoming branches of
crabapple entwined with a climbing rose which rises from the
base beside a stem of chrysanthemums, all against a bright
lemon-yellow ground, gilded porcelain stopper
5.6 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.
L I T E R A T U R E :
Catalogue, Canadian Craft Museum, Vancouver, 1992.

The double-gourd was a popular form for snuff bottles, particularly at
the Court. The subject, as on all Imperial enamels, is a unique design
and every one is different. However, this bottle is one of a series
produced in the early Qianlong period at the Beijing Palace Workshops
with different combinations of flowers, part of a broader group of
double-gourd-form bottles with floral decoration on a yellow ground.
The series is decorated with various auspicious flowers and there are
seven recorded so far. One decorated with blossoming crab-apple,
prunus and roses, is illustrated by Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the
Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, no. 190, and which was sold
in these rooms, 30 March 2005, lot 22. Two more are is illustrated in
Snuff Bottles, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace
Museum, pl. 13. See also one illustrated by R. Kleiner, Chinese Snuff
Bottles from the Collection of Mary and George Bloch, no. 14; one from
the Edward Choate O’Dell Collection illustrated by B. Stevens, The
Collector’s Book of Snuff Bottles, no. 968 (also illustrated by J. Ford,
Chinese Snuff Bottles. The Edward Choate O’Dell Collection, no. 100 and
in the exhibition catalogue Snuff Bottles of the Ch’ing Dynasty, Hong
Kong Museum of Art, 1978, no. 25, where no. 26 is also of the group);
and one last example was acquired by Hugh M. Moss Ltd. in the early
1970s (Hugh Moss records).

Other examples with floral decoration on a yellow ground but not part
of this series include two illustrated by Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of
the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, 1993, pl. 189 (decorated
with morning glory vines and bats) and pl. 191 (lilies and roses) and
another sold in these rooms, 27 November 1991, lot 110.

Enameled glass snuff bottles are very rare when compared to the
number of metal and porcelain enameled bottles, most likely because
of the difficulty in controlling and firing the enamels perfectly on glass,
discussed under lot 617. It is interesting to note that when Ye Bengqi
perfected his art of enameling in the 1930s, he would fire some of the
enamels several times, adding a layer each time (see H. Moss, “The
Apricot Grove Studio. The Ye Family of Snuff Bottle Artists”, part 3,
JICSBS, Autumn 1985, pp. 116-130). Although it is not certain that the
Ye family arrived at the same solution as the Beijing Palace Workshops
more than a century earlier, it is likely.

The double-gourd was a popular form for snuff bottles, appreciated not
only for its tactile qualities when held in the hand, but for its auspicious
symbolism, representing abundance and its association with Daoism. The
gourd growing on a vine formed the rebus guadie mianmian (“May you
have numerous descendants”).

The Meriem Collection. Lot 705

Hugh Moss |