Lot 128 Lot 128 Lot 129 Lot 129 Lot 129 Lot 129 Lot 129

photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 129 

Lot 129

Lot 129
Treasury 5, no. 1000 (‘Panting at the Moon ‘)

Transparent sapphire-blue, ruby-red, and colourless glass, all suffused with air bubbles of various sizes, some elongated, the colourless glass also with small white flakes; with a flat lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim; carved as a double overlay with a circular panel on each main side, one with a water buffalo reclining beneath a pine tree in a rocky landscape, the other with an open pavilion, standing on stilts in a raging torrent, a plank bridge approaching it, with bamboo in the background, the areas outside the frames and running onto the narrow sides with five bats flying amidst formalized clouds, a small patch of red on the neck engraved as a further formalized cloud in front of the full moon, the narrow sides also with mask-and-ring handles superimposed upon the design
Height: 5.9 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.75/1.30 cm
Stopper: rose-quartz, carved with a formalized flower head surrounded by formalized lotus petals; glass collar

H. G. Beasley
Miss M. A. Beasley
Sotheby’s, London, 2 July 1984, lot 13
K. H. Chu (1986)
Robert Kleiner (1986)

Kleiner 1987, no. 104
Galeries Lafayette 1990, p. 12, no. 2
Treasury 5, no. 1000

Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Galeries Lafayette, Paris, April 1990
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May-June 1993

A double overlay with blue on red is extremely rare, for reasons made clear by this outstanding bottle. The difference in the overlay colours is barely discernible because the strength of the red beneath transforms the blue into a darker, slightly purplish red. When one holds the bottle in the hand, it is necessary to look through the layers parallel to the surface in order to appreciate the distinction. When a small light is placed behind the top layers of colour, the spectacular nature of the effect becomes evident. The carving is crisp, confident, and very deep, which, combined with the complexity of the subject, creates a unique result. The technical control is extraordinary, with a ground plane far flatter than seems possible given very limited access for the lapidary through such a depth of relief - some of the gaps through which it must be reached being little more than a millimetre across. Among bottles in the collection this ranks as a masterpiece in the art form, possibly equalled on occasion, but never surpassed; in respect of larger vessels, it is rarely even equalled.

The carving style and quality suggest Qianlong work, from the height of the art. The mask-and-ring handles, together with the extraordinary quality, indicate an imperial glassworks source, which is commensurate with the colours, the ground and the circular panels of decoration. A similar very crisp, deep and sharp-edged foot is found on Sale 1, lot 8, which we can date to around 1780, but it appears also on no. 998, which we suspect may be earlier. The key to dating this bottle may be found in another, with the same subject of the pavilion in a torrent, and the rare blue-on-red double overlay (Sotheby’s, New York, 1 December 1992, lot 388). Not quite as impressive, it has an acanthus-leaf neck, linking it to the double-overlay series represented by Sale 5, lot 7 and others, which are probably from the late Qianlong period. It seems that this impressive group of double overlays originated in the mid- to late Qianlong period and probably continued into the early nineteenth century, although this stunning example is presumably from the earlier phase. The crisp foot is probably also a feature of earlier, finer examples from around 1770 to sometime after 1780, although the matching of the overlay colour to the footrim is less than perfect, despite the crispness and confidence of its form.


This is not the Sotheby’s sale catalogue. This is a product of Hugh Moss for the purposes of this website. For the catalogue details please refer to Sotheby’s website or request a copy of a printed sale catalogue from Sotheby’s


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