Possibly Imperial, Official School, 17701860 5.9cm high.
Treasury 2, no. 322
The Ink-Play Master's Delicious Ducks
Dendritic agate; very well hollowed, with a concave lip and concave foot surrounded by a small convex footrim; carved with a continuous partially cameo design of seven ducks on a lotus pond surrounded by rocky outcrops and long grass The Cameo Ink-play Master, possibly imperial, Official school, 17701860 Height: 5.9 cm Mouth/lip: 0.74/2.00 and 2.05 cm (oval) Stopper: carnelian; silver collar Condition: workshop condition
Lot 6 Provenance: Hugh Moss (1985) Published: Moss 1971, p. 56, no. 146 Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty 1978, p. 118, no. 214 Kleiner 1987, no. 168 Treasury 2, no. 322, and front and back covers of one volume
Exhibited: Hong Kong Museum of Art, OctoberDecember 1978 Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987 Creditanstalt, Vienna, MayJune 1993
Lot 6 Commentary In common with all of this carver's finest works, this is one of the great masterpieces of the Chinese chalcedony carver's art. The use of the material here is spectacular, including particularly stunning use of white inclusions mixed in with the brown, a relatively unusual occurrence in chalcedony snuff bottles but one which was obviously a speciality of this artist (see also Treasury 2, no. 324 and Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 156 in the J & J Collection, the latter using the material in a similar way to completely separate a creature in the lower foreground near the foot). Another stroke of genius which earned this bottle a starring place in the Eyeball Agate group and, in fact, was one of the main reasons the name was coined (Moss 1971, nos. 145-147, and Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 120), is the use of darker markings to create the eyes of the two ducks swimming together on the less colourful main side.
This is another of the examples with this master's 'melting' rockwork, discussed under Treasury 2, no. 321.