Lot 127 Lot 127 Lot 127 Lot 127 Lot 127 Lot 128 Lot 128

photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 127 

Lot 127

Lot 127
Treasury 5, no. 763 (‘Improbable Aquamarine’)

Transparent pale aquamarine-blue glass; extremely well hollowed, with a concave lip and recessed, slightly convex foot surrounded by a protruding flat foot rim
1740 - 1820
Height: 6.04 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.90/2.22 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Robert Hall (1985)

Treasury 5, no. 763

As in the case of Sale 8, lot 1048, we have here a glass bottle that we may assume was intended to imitate a stone. The difference is that, while pieces of relatively pure amethyst could occasionally be found, no snuff bottles are known that are of completely flawless aquamarine. The closest approach to purity is represented by a small group of plain aquamarine bottles of rounded rectangular form and brilliant colour, of which a superb example exists in this collection (Sale 2, lot 3). The purest of this group, the Bloch example nevertheless exhibits some slight cloudy inclusions and minor flaws. There would, therefore, have been some incentive to reproduce the stone in glass without the flaws, as there was in the case of amethyst.

Absence of concentricity round the neck of the inner swirling of the material provides evidence of carving from a solid block. Had the bottle been blown, an indication would have remained round the mouth as the flow of the glass was dictated by the energy from the blow-iron. As in the imitation of amethyst, air bubbles have been almost totally excluded, those remaining being so small they are visible only under a high-power lens. Further evidence of a carving from the solid can be found in slight undulations on the interior surface left by the hollowing process.

This bottle is hollowed to within a millimetre or two of its life, to the degree that the walls are barely visible from the exterior. Normally with carved transparent material, the thickness of the walls can be easily seen as a solid area, as in Sale 8, lot 1048. Here, however, they are very difficult to see, and then only from certain angles and under certain lighting conditions. It is a delight in the hand owing to its simple shape, gently curving form, and comfortable size for the palm.

The shape is achieved with perfect formal integrity, and the detailing of foot and mouth is impeccable, crafted with the crispness and confidence exemplified by the finest of stone carvings.


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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