Palace enamel on glass with bird and peonies.  Qianlong mark.
Lot 132
A 'famille-rose'-enamelled glass 'bird on branch' snuff bottle Imperial, palace workshops, Qianlong blue-enamel mark and of the period, 1736–1760
Sold for HK$ 5,248,000 (US$ 677,108) inc. premium
Lot Details
A 'famille-rose'-enamelled glass 'bird on branch' snuff bottle
Imperial, palace workshops, Qianlong blue-enamel mark and of the period, 1736–1760
4.55cm high.


  • Treasury 6, no. 1068


    Palace Desires

    Famille rose enamels on semi-transparent milky glass; with a flat lip and slightly recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding convex footrim; painted with a continuous scene of a bird perched on a leafy branch with asters growing nearby and a butterfly settling on the flower of a tree peony, with another bloom and budding branches nearby, the neck, shoulders, and the base with formalized bands incorporating lingzhi, the shoulders with additional pendant leaves, the outer footrim with pendant petals, the foot inscribed in blue regular script, Qianlong nian zhi (Made during the Qianlong period)
    Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, 1736–1760
    Height: 4.55 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.66/1.40 cm
    Stopper: gilt bronze, chased with a formalized floral design
    Condition: minor natural surface wear, none of it obtrusive; otherwise, perfect. General relative condition: excellent, almost kiln condition

    Arthur Gadsby
    Ian Wasserman
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd., (circa 1972)
    The Loch Awe Collection
    Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd. (1985)

    Moss 1976, plate 39 (text pp. 62-63)
    JICSBS, March 1979, p. 22, figs. 39 and 40
    Kleiner 1987, no. 13
    Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 17
    Kleiner 1995, no. 27
    Treasury 6, no. 1068, and front and back covers of one volume

    Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
    Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993
    Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
    National Museum of Singapore, November 1994–February 1995
    British Museum, London, June–October 1995
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

    A distinctive feature of early-Qianlong painted enamels on glass is the relative thinness of the enamels and the painterly quality of the brushwork. Court artists, highly trained in the tradition of calligraphic brushwork that gave Chinese painting one of its most profound inner languages, were involved in drawing up the designs and sometimes in painting the enamels. Failing that, it was skilled enamellers trained in the same aesthetic and overseen by court artists who produced them from preparatory sketches. Artistically, these early, painterly enamels represent the apogee of glass enamelling during the Qing dynasty. In the early phase of the art form, from the late Kangxi until the 1750s or early 1760s, technical control of the enamels was still marginal, and all known examples exhibit some degree of pitting or discolouration of the enamels. This continued to be a problem with some colours into the second half of the Qianlong reign. Although far from obtrusive, here the green enamel in particular (a perennially problematic colour) is pitted, as is the blue in places, but it is otherwise remarkably well fired for the period.

    This design is purely Chinese in its conception, without any hint of the Western influence that appears, not unnaturally, in some wares with European subjects that rely to a greater extent on the use of colour and chiaroscuro rather than line to create form. The flower heads drawn without lines here do not by that quality reflect Western influence, but rather the 'bodiless' style made famous by Yun Shouping (1633–1690), whose works would have been well known to any court artist a mere half century after the painter's death. Here, the blossoms are balanced against the other elements of the design featuring the elegant black lines of the calligrapher's brush, with well modulated, expressive strokes.

    The reign marks on these early-Qianlong enamelled glass bottles are distinctive and intriguing; rather than being in bold relief, they are flush with the foot. This is in sharp contrast to the raised blue enamel marks of the mid- to late reign and, oddly, to the use of blue enamel on the bodies of the bottles themselves, which although seldom in high relief, does not give the impression of being flush with the surface. The discrepancy between the reaction of the blue enamel on the body of the work and on the mark suggests a difference between either the enamels or the firing conditions of the two. It may have something to do with the greater fluidity required for mark writing. Once enamels have been produced in a glassworks, they are kept in solid form. In preparation for use, the solid enamel is crushed and reduced to a fine, even powder that is then mixed with a liquid so that it forms a paint that can be brushed onto the surface to be enamelled. Depending upon the colour of enamel and desired effect, the liquid may vary, but Tang Ying identified three media in 1743 (cf. Treasury 6, Chronological List, fifth month, twenty second day):

    The five-colour painting that imitates Western [techniques] is called yangcai [Western colours]. A skillful painting craftsman is selected and the various colours are mixed....The colours employed are the same as those used for fuolang se [=falang cai, perhaps referring to cloisonné enamelling]. They are mixed with three different kinds of medium, the first being yunxiang oil [rue oil?], the second being liquid glue, the third being water. The oil facilitates washes; glue facilitates daubing, water facilitates building up or filling in [surface irregularities].

    Another oil medium mentioned in the archives is duoermen or duoermendina oil, for which the English term doermendina oil has been invented (see Treasury 6, Chronological List, 1728, seventh month, tenth day); it was apparently imported and is possibly identifiable as turpentine (Zhou Sizhong 2008, p. 152, n. 1).

    In any case, it is possible that whichever medium facilitated brushwork fluency had a concomitant effect on the chemistry of the enamel, encouraging it to eat into the surface of the glass to a greater extent. Another factor contributing to the singularity of some early-Qianlong reign marks is that some of them appear to have been polished. This is one example, but the most obvious is Treasury 6, no. 1071. Perhaps this was done mainly to resolve problems of the roughness arising from burst bubbles during the firing (of which there were obviously many on Treasury 6, no. 1071). Whatever accounts for these distinctive marks, the phenomenon remains extremely useful in identifying early-Qianlong enamels on glass, as they have the distinctive appearance of being flush with the glass surface, or at least in very low relief, while late- Qianlong examples are in higher relief — as are the copies of both Ye Bengqi and his student Wang Xisan.

    The design here contains the usual selection of auspicious symbolism. The peony stands for wealth; the asters (lanju) for the arrival of male (nan) children; the bird, a white-headed bulbul (baitouweng) and the peonies together call to mind the common desire for wealth to last till one's old age (fugui baitou); the composite design of a butterfly hovering over a flower signifies the affection between lovers; while the formalized lingzhi heads along the borders, resembling the heads of ruyi sceptres, imply wish fulfilment (ruyi). Two closely related bottles are in the J & J Collection (Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, nos. 187 and 188), and another, although perhaps a little later, is in the imperial collection, Beijing (Li Jiufang 2002 , no. 104).


    半透明乳白色玻璃施琺瑯彩;平唇、平斂底、突出凸形圈足;通體繪一白頭翁棲於枝頭,有藍菊、含苞的牡丹枝,有蝴蝶棲息於一朵盛開之牡丹花上,頸、肩、近圈足處飾不同如意紋,肩部間加垂蕉葉紋,圈足外壁繪如頸部 "C" 形相背雲紋的簡化圖案; 底藍琺瑯彩書二行"乾隆年製"楷款

    高:4.55 厘米
    口經/唇經:0.66/1.40 厘米

    Arthur Gadsby
    Ian Wasserman
    Hugh M. Moss, Ltd (約1972)
    Loch Awe 珍藏 (作家瑪麗.斯圖爾特夫人)
    Hugh Moss (HK), Ltd (1985)
    Moss 1976, 插圖39(論述,頁62~63)
    《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 1979年3月,頁22,圖39、40
    Kleiner 1987, 編號13
    Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, 編號17
    Kleiner 1995,編號27
    Treasury 6,編號1068、第一封面、封底
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd, 倫敦, 1987年10 月
    Creditanstalt, 維也納, 1993年5月~6月
    香港藝術館,1994年3 月~6月
    National Museum of Singapore, 1994年11月~1995年1月
    大英博物館, 倫敦, 1995年6月~10 月
    Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷, 1997年7月~11月



    這些乾隆早年的白料琺瑯彩煙壺的年款具有一個引人興趣的特點,它們和周圍的底是齊平的。乾隆中、後期的卻是凸起的。再看本壺底款以外的藍彩,好像也是稍微凸起的,要不是因為燒窯情況的不同,便可能是因為材料的差異。寫字和繪畫的要求不一樣,磨製琺瑯坯子的時候用不同的媒質材料是合乎情理的。 如唐英《陶冶圖說》說﹕"五彩繪畫仿西洋曰洋彩。選畫作高手,調合各種顏色......所用顏色,與琺瑯色同。調法有三﹕一用芸香油;一用膠水;一用清水。油便渲染,膠便搨刷,清水便堆填也"(桑行之1993,頁139)。還有所謂多爾門油或多爾門的那油,是"西洋人......燒琺瑯調色用"的, 或許就是松節油(周思中2008,頁152,注1)。且不說芸香油和多爾門油到底是甚麼媒質,我們推測,當時調合書年款用的琺瑯彩的媒質可能是燒窯時侵蝕玻璃面的,因而款識和周圍的底是齊平的。乾隆早期的年款還有另一個特色﹕有的好像是磨光的。本壺就是一個例子;Treasury 6,編號1071是更明顯的例子。也許磨光底款的目的是修補氣泡產生的麻點。無論如何,這些特點對鑒定玻璃胎畫琺瑯的乾隆早期作品應該很有用,應該有助於辨別乾隆晚期的玻璃胎畫琺瑯煙壺和葉仲三、王習三的仿造品。

    與本壺可以聯系的有 J & J 珍藏的兩件(Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, 編號187、188);後來的有故宮珍藏中的一件(李久芳2002,編號104)。
Auction information

This sale is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future sales, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this sale, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first HKD800,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from HKD800,001 to HKD1,000,000 of the Hammer Price
12% on the excess over HKD1,000,000 of the Hammer Price.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.