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photographer E-Yaji.
Snuff Bottles from the Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part I  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 May 2010: Lot 32 

Lot 32


Lot 32
Treasury 1, no. 182

The Dwyer Lilac Jadeite

Jadeite; with a recessed foot
Height: 5.44 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.51/1.82 cm
Stopper: jadeite; gilt-bronze collar

Illustration: watercolour by Peter Suart

Lot 32 Provenance:
Gertrude ,
Edmund F. Dwyer
Christie’s, London, 12 October 1987, lot 240
JICSBS, Summer 1984, front cover
and commentary on acquisition, p. 6
In Focus, Winter 1985/6, front cover
Arts of Asia, September–October 1987, p. 22
JICSBS, Autumn 1987, p. 2, top right
Christie’s International Magazine, September–October 1987, p. 28
Antiques Trade Gazette, 7 November 1987, p. 18
JICSBS, Winter 1987, p. 27, fig. 4
Arts of Asia, January–February 1988, p. 127
Kleiner 1995, no. 105
Treasury 1, no. 182

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October–November 1984
British Museum, June–October 1995

Lot 32 Commentary
Western writers have usually cited the eighteenth century for the introduction into China of Burmese jadeite. The Chinese, on the other hand, believe that it was introduced during the seventeenth century (see discussion under Treasury 1, no. 187). We have never seen any jadeite carvings that could unquestionably lay claim to a seventeenth-century date, and only one, a snuff bottle in a distinctive and unique material carved in first-phase Suzhou style, which might possibly be from late in the century but is more likely to be from the first half of the eighteenth century (see discussion under Treasury 1, no. 187). Unfortunately the Burmese side of the equation is unknown to us—when it was first discovered there and to what extent it was worked locally as early as the seventeenth century. The truth may be that although the popular use of the material did not begin in China until the late Qianlong period, as suggested by the documentary evidence of Ji Yun and probably coinciding with the normalization of relations between China and Burma in 1784, (see Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, p. 122), small amounts of the material were available earlier through the normal cross-border trade that would have taken place regardless of official policy. Perhaps the material was first introduced into China during the seventeenth century but in quantities too small to have allowed recognizable surviving examples of carved material.

There is no reason why lavender-coloured jadeite of this type should not have been introduced into China during the late Qianlong period along with other colours of jadeite, although the majority of bottles and other carvings from the stone appear to be later. There is one bottle in the material which appears to be imperial and relates in style of carved detail to a group of glass bottles with Qianlong marks. It is a magnificent lavender and emerald-green material carved as a basket of flowers (see Sotheby’s, New York, 5 June 1987, lot 165). None in this colour are known of the superbly hollowed series of earlier jadeite examples (see, for instance, Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, nos. 59–63), but this may have less to do with the availability of material during the late Qianlong period and more to do with the intensity of colour that would be sacrificed to super-hollowing. As a rule the majority of lavender jadeite bottles appear to be nineteenth or even early twentieth century, rather clunky and not very well hollowed, but there are exceptions and this is one of them. It is quite well hollowed, of unusually elegant form and impeccable formal integrity, and of a superb, even colour which is unusual for the material.

Specimens of lavender jadeite of this size are seldom without unpleasant flaws or areas of less attractive colouring. This example suffers from neither problem, with its evenly-marked crystalline material and intense colour, with only the slightest change to a hint of emerald-green in one area.

Others which appear to be of similarly impressive quality and material are published in Chinese Snuff Bottles No. 2, p. 24, Plate Y; Ford 1982, no. 11, and Kwok 1993, p. 94, no. 20 (an unusually pure and vibrantly coloured example which, coincidentally, has an almost identical stopper, although its rather large size for the bottle suggests it may not have been the original).

The present bottle was Eddie Dwyer’s favourite among the favourites (see JICSBS, Summer 1984, p. 6).


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