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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 97 

Lot 97


Lot 97
Treasury 6, no. 1290

Evolved Dragon Pillar

Colourless glaze on cobalt on porcelain; with a convex lip and a recessed flat foot surrounded by a convex footrim; painted under the glaze with a continuous design of an imperial five-clawed dragon chasing a flaming pearl, the neck decorated with a band of formalized lingzhi; the foot inscribed in underglaze-blue seal script, Da Qing Daoguang nian zhi (Made during the Daoguang period of the Qing dynasty); the lip, inner neck, and interior glazed
Imperial kilns, Jingdezhen, 1821–1850
Height: 6.41 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.80/1.16 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; gilt-silver collar

Lot 97 Provenance:
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd (1985)

Kleiner 1995, no. 224
Treasury 6, no. 1290

British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

Lot 97 Commentary:
Another similar bottle is in the Ault Collection (Kleiner 1990, no. 162), and a third in the Quentin Loh Collection (Vanessa F. Holden 2002, no. 249). Uncompressed forms were a staple of ceramic snuff bottle production from the nineteenth century. One might refer to this as ‘cylindrical’ although it quite obviously tapers in at the shoulders, but it is also a millimetre narrower around the lower part of the body than around the upper part, and many others are similarly varied. In fact, they blend indistinguishably into exaggeratedly elongate ovoid forms. What characterises them as a distinct formal group is less their ‘cylindrical’ form than their lack of compression: any cross section would provide a perfect circle, whether they are elongated ovoid forms, cylinders, or tapering cylinders. The purely cylindrical form first appears on imperial bottles in the second half of the Qianlong period. Once the idea of a cylindrical form was developed, however, variations would automatically evolve, particularly once the form was transferred to Jingdezhen and its potential for the ceramic arts explored.

The design of the dragon is probably derived from the popular, early-nineteenth century series of imperial dragon cylinders resembling columns wrapped with pillar carpets (see lot 134). It is exactly like one of the standard designs that fills all the space around a tall cylinder, with the beast in exactly the same position in the air as it chases the flaming pearl, also similarly placed. Here, however, the strictly cylindrical pillar has been dispensed with; the bottle is given gentler lines, slightly tapering towards the foot and curving generously into the narrow neck, which has also assumed the more normal shape for a snuff-bottle neck.

This is one of the rarer examples with the six-character, seal-script reign mark, as opposed to the more standard four-character mark.


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