Meriem Collection Sale One / 670

The Meriem Collection. Lot 670

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The flattened ovoid body with flat lip and recessed foot
surrounded by a footrim, finely carved in high relief with a scaly
five-clawed dragon with prominent fangs, and bulging eyes
picked out in black, pursuing a flaming pearl amidst trailing
wisps of cloud that continue onto the reverse, all under an
enamel of very pale, creamy yellowish-green tone that also
covers the foot, the foot inscribed in relief seal script Wang
Bingrong zuo (Made by Wang Bingrong), crystal stopper with
gilt-metal collar
7 cm. high

P R O V E N A N C E :
Albert Pyke.
Elisabeth and Ladislas Kardos.
The Reif Collection.
Christie’s, New York, 18 October 1993, lot 43.

For a similar bottle see the exhibition catalogue, Chinese Snuff Bottles,
Hong Kong Museum of Art, 15 Oct-26 Nov, 1977, fig. 75, and
R. Kleiner, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Collection of John Ault, 1990,
fig. 154, where the author states, “a series of bottles by Wang Bingrong
is known, depicting dragons on a pierced cloud ground, but this bottle is
a much rarer treatment of the subject.”

Wang Bingrong was one of the finest of a small group of independent
ceramicists of the nineteenth century who began to emerge from the
traditionally anonymous production of ceramics at Jingdezhen by signing
their names, developing distinctive styles and acquiring fame. His dates
are not known, but Wang probably worked from sometime during the
Daoguang period into the second half of the nineteenth century.

Dragons were among Wang’s more popular designs, although this
particular design is among his rarer works. They are usually covered with
pale, pastel monochrome enamels. Other comparable examples include
a yellow-enameled example illustrated by L.S. Perry, Chinese Snuff
Bottles. The Adventures and Studies of a Collector, p. 84, no. 64; two
bottles, one covered in a pale yellow enamel, the other in a very pale
green enamel mottled with brighter green splashes, illustrated by B.
Stevens, The Collector’s Book of Snuff Bottles, p. 93, nos. 263 and 265,
respectively; a pale duck-egg-blue-enameled bottle illustrated in
Zhongguo Biyanhu Zhenshang, no. 161; one covered with a yellowish cream
glaze, also with clouds on the reverse, illustrated by H. Hitt,
Old Chinese Snuff Bottles, p. 66; and an example left in the raw biscuit
state achieved after the first firing, illustrated by R. Kleiner, Chinese
Snuff Bottles. The White Wings Collection, p. 140, no. 94. This group
of bottles is usually categorized as monochrome, although strictly
speaking it is not, since the eyes of the dragons are always enameled
in black.

It is interesting to note with Wang Bingrong’s series of dragon bottles
that no two are identical. In each case the design was considered afresh
with the dragons in different positions, suggesting that the designs
owed nothing to a mold, but were entirely carved by hand, even if the
initial shape of the bottle was derived from a mold.

The Meriem Collection. Lot 670

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