Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis
Lot 122
An enamelled porcelain snuff bottle Japan, 1854–1920
Sold for HK$ 57,600 (US$ 7,426) inc. premium

Lot Details
Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis Japanese porcelain with pomegranates and mantis
An enamelled porcelain snuff bottle
Japan, 1854–1920
6.62cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 6, no. 1467


    瓷胎琺瑯彩鼻煙壺
    日本,1854~1920


    Export Pomegranates

    Crackled, pink-speckled white, yellow, green, and aubergine enamels on porcelain; with a flat lip and protruding flat foot; carved with a continuous design of fruiting and flowering pomegranate branches, the neck with a band of formalized waves; all exterior surfaces, including the inner neck, enamelled directly onto the biscuit; the foot and interior unglazed
    Japan, 1854–1920
    Height: 6.62 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.59/1.30 cm
    Stopper: nephrite; coral collar
    Condition: small chip out of the outer edge of the foot; area of glaze flaked away from the lip running from the mouth almost to the outer lip, and about 0.65 cm at its greatest extent near the mouth. General relative condition: good

    Provenance:
    Sotheby's, London, 28 April 1987, lot 803

    Published:
    Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 195
    Treasury 6, no. 1467

    Exhibited:
    Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
    National Museum of Singapore, November 1994–February 1995

    Commentary:
    With this rare ceramic bottle we are dealing with yet another pottery centre and, in this case, one that was not even located in China.
    After Japan was forced from its long period of isolation in 1853 by the arrival of Admiral Perry's black ships in Edo (Tokyo) Bay, some of the world's finest craftsmen were suddenly introduced, albeit through middlemen, to some of the world's keenest and wealthiest collectors. The results were predictable. Japanese arts and crafts were shipped to the West in large quantities, particularly to America, and the Japanese soon learned to accommodate the taste of these collectors. The demand for Oriental art in general soon saw the Japanese dealers who established an initial foothold on the East Coast of America not only trading in Chinese works of art, but having 'Chinese' works of art, particularly snuff bottles, made in Japan. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, interest in collecting snuff bottles had taken a firm hold in both Europe and America, and demand was considerable from an audience that knew very little about the art form or, indeed, the culture from which it came. The Japanese middlemen no doubt found it easier to produce their own snuff bottles than to trawl China for originals. This gave them the advantage of providing the more spectacular types and the materials that were in demand without the constraints of supply or authenticity. Much of the Japanese output was made with a view to fooling the uninformed collectors of the day, and the Qianlong mark was probably used as often in Kyoto and Tokyo in those days as it was in fakers' workshops in China. A good deal of the output, however, was not made with any obvious intention of fooling anyone. Once snuff bottles became a regular part of Japanese production, many artists responded by making entirely Japanese-style snuff bottles. Sometimes these had Qianlong marks on them anyway, despite their Japanese style, but frequently they did not. Such artists as the master carver Katon began to produce wares under their own names (see Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, nos. 303–305 and Treasury 7, nos. 1693 and 1694). At their finest, the earlier range of Japanese bottles represents, with or without their apocryphal Chinese reign marks, some of the most creative and finely made snuff bottles in our collections, and includes some of the great masterpieces after which most collectors lust, no matter where they were made.

    Among these Japanese bottles are some in porcelain. Although relatively rare, they were made at more than one ceramic centre. This and Treasury 6, no. 1468 are among the masterpieces from one of the kilns making snuff bottles. The use of this sort of range of coloured enamels and carved surfaces is reminiscent of the tradition of the Kutani kilns, but we do not yet know where these bottles were made. Although of a different style and not as impressive as art, there is a Japanese porcelain bottle in the Drummond Collection in the American Museum of Natural History, New York (70.3.2049) that bears the signature of the famous Meiji potter from Kyoto, Makuzu Kozan (also known as Miyagawa Kozan, 1842–1916), suggesting that any of the established potters may have produced snuff bottles occasionally, with or without signatures. Makuzu was one of the potters who produced a large number of pieces for export to the West and participated in overseas exhibitions.

    The shape of this bottle and the next, and the low-relief style of floral carving link them stylistically to a group of magnificent Japanese lacquer bottles of the same period (see, for instance, Sotheby, New York, 31 October 1984, lot 139; Chinese Snuff Bottles, no. 5, p.31, fig. 24, also illustrated JICSBS, Spring 1982, front cover, and Sotheby's, London, 2 July 1984, lot 215).

    These rare porcelain examples are individually composed and carved, and it may be that they were carved by the same person who produced the lacquer wares. In Japan, there was both close cooperation between a group of workshops skilled in different media in Japan; on the other hand, some workshops were capable of production in several media.

    Here we find a well-composed depiction of a mantis with pomegranates, although whether the symbolism of the two (insects in general for fertility, and the pomegranate for the related continuity of the family line) was considered by the Japanese artist is another matter.

    With this bottle, we face again the question of whether we are dealing with a glazes or enamels. Although treated like enamels painted directly onto the biscuit, with different details picked out in different colours (even the mantis is of a different colour green from the leaves behind it), if any one of these colours were encountered as an overall covering we would be tempted to call it a glaze.

    A closely related bottle, although of different shape and subject matter, is in the Denis Low Collection (Kleiner 1999, no. 168), and three others, all reticulated and with different subjects, were in Dorotheum, Vienna, 1 December 1993, lot 159; Christie's, New York, 28 March 1996, lot 114; and Christie's, London, 12 October 1987, lot 267. We know that such bottles were in English private collections by 1920: A bulbous bottle that is from the broader group, with an engraved design of horses on a dark blue ground, was in the R. Gordon Smith Collection, sold at Glendining & Co, London, 18 October 1920. The sale was the disposal of the Smith Collection, so we may assume he had collected for some years, suggesting that the porcelain bottles were being made as early as the late nineteenth century. The pieces sold also included a reticulated version with a pale blue, typically Japanese three-clawed dragon in dark blue clouds (Hugh Moss Records), providing further indication that the R. Gordon Smith Collection included Japanese works. The Drummond Collection, formed before 1933 and now in the American Museum of Natural History, New York, is home to another example of Japanese ceramic snuff bottles, a reticulated, double-bodied bottle with panels of birds on rocks and a blue-glazed ground.


    扶桑石榴熟,逃轍螳螂驕

    米色陶瓷施撒落粉紅點、白色密佈冰紋之釉、黃色釉、綠色釉、紫棠色釉;平唇、突出平底;通體雕開花而結實的石榴,有一隻螳螂由一側面爬過來,繞頸有一周圖案式波浪紋;表面和頸內壁皆施釉於素坯上,唯底與腹內壁不施釉

    日本,1850~1920
    高:6.62 厘米
    口經/唇經:0.59/1.30 厘米
    蓋:閃玉,珊瑚座
    狀態敘述:底緣有一缺口,從口快到唇緣,釉有所脫落,最寬有0.65厘米;一般相對的狀態:良好

    來源:
    蘇富比,倫敦,1987年4月28日,拍賣品號803
    文獻﹕
    Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994,編號195
    Treasury 6,編號1467
    展覽﹕
    香港藝術館,1994年3 月~6月
    National Museum of Singapore, 1994年11月~1995年1月

    說明:
    日本喜永6年,美國艦隊抵達江戶灣後,世界上最精幹的工藝師們突然得到了全球的市場。果然,日本的藝術品和工藝品涌向西洋,也有日本商人在美國東岸開辦進口商。歐美收藏家已經對鼻煙壺非常感興趣,而日本人不少用鼻煙壺,供不應求,讓古董商跑到大清國去購買煙壺也太麻煩,還是請日本工匠作吧。不久就有日本風味的模仿品上場,也有新穎、日本式的鼻煙壺上場;後者或加乾隆年款,或不加,橫豎歐美人不會辨認日、華不同的風格,只要告訴他們是中國貨,不是日本貨,他們都買。所幸歐美有的珍藏收藏了很多早期最優秀的日本製鼻煙壺。

    日本製的鼻煙壺包括少量的瓷胎壺。本壺和Treasury 6,編號1468是其中的傑作。顯然,它們是不同產地來的,而本壺的琺瑯彩和雕刻使人聯想起九谷燒,但我們還不知道是哪些地區。有的窯戶會以副業形式從事煙壺的製造。如宮川香山(1842-1916)大量出口的真葛燒也包括一件帶款的鼻煙壺,美國博物學博物館,Drummond珍藏所藏(70.3.2049)。

    看本壺和Treasury 6,編號1468的淺浮雕風和形式,它們可能跟一批同時期的優美日本漆鼻煙壺有關係。可以參照蘇富比,紐約,1984年10 月31日,拍賣品號139與Chinese Snuff Bottles 5,頁31,圖24,《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 1982年春期, 封面(同件),蘇富比,倫敦,1984年7月2 日,拍賣品號215(同件)。在日本,有的作坊合作,有的作坊能辦各種工藝。

    我們又來到琺瑯彩和釉的辨別問題。跟琺瑯彩一樣,色彩的直接畫在素坯上,但如果只有其中任何一個顏色的話,我們大概會以釉視之。

    Denis Low 珍藏一件相關的煙壺(只是形式與題材不同;Kleiner 1999, 編號168)。其他可參照Dorotheum, 維也納,1993年12 月1日,拍賣品號159;佳士得,紐約,1996年3月28日,拍賣品號114;佳士得,倫敦,1987年10月12日,拍賣品號267。這種鼻煙壺,1920年已經進入了英國的私人珍藏。深藍地刻馬紋的球形的,1920年10月18日由Glendining & Co., 倫敦,被賣掉了。還賣了一件日本典型的深藍地三爪龍紋鏤雕煙壺(莫士撝未付梓知見錄)。那是變賣R. Gordon Smith珍藏的場合,Smith氏大概是已經收集了幾年的玩物,可以推測日本的瓷胎煙壺十九世紀末已經登場了。上舉Drummond珍藏是1933年以前形成的,還收藏一件內外二層壁鏤雕日本鼻煙壺。
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