A white nephrite 'peach' snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, or Suzhou, 1730–1800
Lot 75
A white nephrite 'peach' snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, or Suzhou, 1730–1800
Sold for HK$ 336,000 (US$ 43,319) inc. premium

Lot Details
A white nephrite 'peach' snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, or Suzhou, 1730–1800 A white nephrite 'peach' snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, or Suzhou, 1730–1800 A white nephrite 'peach' snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, or Suzhou, 1730–1800 A white nephrite 'peach' snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, or Suzhou, 1730–1800 A white nephrite 'peach' snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, or Suzhou, 1730–1800 A white nephrite 'peach' snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, or Suzhou, 1730–1800 A white nephrite 'peach' snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, or Suzhou, 1730–1800
A white nephrite 'peach' snuff bottle
Possibly Imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, or Suzhou, 1730–1800
5.02cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 1, no. 65

    白玉桃形鼻煙壺
    或為御製品,可能是宮廷作坊所作,北京或蘇州,1730-1800

    An Imperial Peach

    Flawless nephrite; very well hollowed and carved in the form of a peach; with a severed leafy branch of the peach tree disposed around the upper portion of the fruit
    Possibly imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, or Suzhou, 1730–1800
    Height: 5.02 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.51/1.50 cm
    Stopper: jadeite; vinyl collar

    Condition: miniscule, practically invisible chip on outer lip; otherwise, workshop condition

    Provenance:
    J. T. Wakefield
    Sotheby's, London, 6 May 1986, lot 290

    Published:
    Kleiner 1987, no. 31
    Treasury 1, no. 65

    Exhibited:
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd, London, October 1987
    Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993

    Commentary:
    This is a supreme example of a small sub-group of the naturalistic bottles discussed under Treasury 1, no. 62. They have frequently been overlooked as masterpieces of the snuff bottle genre because they often will not stand in a cabinet, although they usually have a typical snuff-bottle neck emerging from the naturalistic form. They consist of fruit forms, usually peaches in white nephrite, and they are nearly always masterly carvings, albeit in an understated manner. Different hands seem to be involved, however, suggesting the output of a workshop over an extended period. For other examples, see Friedman 1990, no. 66; Geng and Zhao 1992, no. 238; which has similar raised bumps on the skin of the fruit; and Sotheby's, New York, 3 November 1982, lot 144, a lovely example in an uninspired colour of nephrite. Attribution to the imperial workshops is strengthened by a small covered snuff dish of similar style and inscribed with a four-character Qianlong mark appropriate for the palace workshops that is still in the imperial collection (see Chang Lin-sheng 1991, no. 128). A further connection to the palace workshops is to be found in an imperial-yellow glass version of the same group (Sotheby's, New York, 1 July, 1985, lot 157) that has the addition of a bat in relief. The glass bottle is likely to have been made at the palace workshops, and although the obvious association in subject matter and style could have been prompted by jade bottles made elsewhere for the court, the more likely conclusion is perhaps that all were made at the palace workshops. There is also one very well carved example in a ruby-coloured tourmaline, typical of the late Qianlong period (Franz Collection, Hong Kong). That tourmaline bottles existed from the late Qianlong period is proven by records of the collection of three hundred owned by Heshen at his death in 1799 (Chang Lin-sheng 1991, p. 40), but it is only recently that we have begun to separate them from their twentieth century counterparts and grant them the status they deserve. The tourmaline and yellow-glass examples of this group support the attribution as a type made for the court and possibly at the court.

    A second possibility is that all or some of the jade bottles of this group were an imperial order from Suzhou, since the style of carving, type of generally flawless white nephrite used, and quality of carving would also be commensurate with an eighteenth-century Suzhou source. There is no reason why the court might not have ordered a specific design of bottle from Suzhou to imitate glass and tourmaline bottles made at the palace workshops in Beijing, particularly if they were required in quantity, and there is no doubt that this group was made in quantity. If this was the case, then certain stylistic features may help us to decide the original provenance of other wares. This is a possible avenue of future research.

    One stylistic feature of this bottle that links it to the broader fruit-and-vegetable group is the combination of one leaf carved with its skeletal structure in relief and other leaves incised. This feature links the carving to others of the fruit-and-vegetable form and may be a feature of a particular workshop or local style. It is found, for instance, on Treasury 1, no. 62 (lot * in this sale), with which it also shares the lipped edge to the leaves, as well as purity of material and excellence of carving.

    The fruit is of the standard double shape of a peach, with the lower half of the fruit distinctly divided into two and the division fading in the middle of the fruit, leaving the upper area unified. The surface on both main sides is covered with raised bumps, superbly carved and smoothed, a common feature of bottles from this small group. The formal arrangement of the peach is also inspired with one lower segment hanging below the other, offsetting the symmetry of the neck and shoulders and acting as a foil for the concentration of the relief decoration. The relief is achieved with perfect separation from the ground plane, and it is extremely fluid and fluent, with wholly convincing gnarled branches acting as host to floppy leaves.

    This bottle has been previously identified as a pomegranate, with the relief bumps on the skin of the peach read as the seeds within the pomegranate. They are, however, quite clearly blemishes on the surface rather than seeds beneath it, and in any case, the pomegranate has a very distinctive calyx that is always shown in conjunction with the multiple seeds within, wherein lies the symbolism for endless progeny.

    皇家桃子

    無瑕閃玉; 掏膛非常規整 ,雕琢桃子形與折枝
    或為御製品, 可能是宮廷作坊的產品,北京或蘇州, 1730~1800年
    高:5.02 厘米
    口經/唇經:0.51/1.50 厘米
    蓋:翡翠;乙烯基座

    狀態敘述:
    唇外沿有微乎其微的缺口;此外,出坊狀態

    來源:
    J. T. Wakefield
    蘇富比,倫敦, 1986年5月6日,拍賣品號 290

    文獻:
    Kleiner 1987, 編號31
    Treasury 1, 編號65

    展覽:
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd, 倫敦, 1987年10月
    Creditanstalt, 維也納, 1993年5月~6月

    說明:
    本壺為拍賣品號14,Treasury 1, 編號62論述中所讓的果實、蔬菜形煙壺的傑出代表。這類鼻煙壺的極高品質向來被忽略,因為它們擺在陳列櫃常常不能站立,儘管它們具備著典型的煙壺頸部。果實形的多半是桃子形的白玉器,而大多數是出色而素描性的雕品。因為雕琢風格有所不同,這些白玉桃子可推測是一個作坊長期的出產。其他的例子可參見Friedman 1990, 編號66; 耿寶昌、趙炳驊1992, 編號238 (果皮呈現類似的小凸點);以及蘇富比,紐約, 1982年11月3日, 拍賣品號 144(閃玉顏色沒甚麼了不起,雕藝可悅目)。皇家珍藏尚有帶蓋的一件四字乾隆年款鼻煙碟,風格跟本壺很相似 (張臨生1991,編號128),這就提供御用作坊來歷源的旁證;也可參照同一類型的柘黃色玻璃煙壺 (蘇富比,紐約,1985年7月1日, 拍賣品號 157;浮雕有一隻蝙蝠) ,大概也是御用作坊作的。有的可能是在外地奉命而給皇宮作的,但最合乎情理的結論還是把它們都歸功於御用玉作。另外尚有雕琢精致、晚乾隆風的一件寶石紅色碧璽煙壺 (Franz 珍藏,香港)。碧璽鼻煙壺自從乾隆晚期就有,以和珅所收藏的三百件為證 (張臨生1991,頁 40);但我們最近才開始把它們和二十世紀的碧璽煙壺分開研究,正確地認識它們的歷史意義。這一群煙壺的碧璽壺和柘黃色玻璃壺支持我們把這類鼻煙壺歸於宮廷或者宮廷作坊。

    另一種可能性就是這批閃玉鼻煙壺是蘇州作坊奉命而給宮廷作的。雕風、慣用的無瑕玉料、雕琢的水平等等,都符合十八世紀蘇州的來源。宮廷需要一大批以京師作坊作的碧璽煙壺和玻璃煙壺為典範的閃玉煙壺而讓蘇州的作坊按一定的設計來供應,是很合理的。毫無疑問,這類煙壺產出的量相當大。那麼,如果我們這個想法是對的,將來我們會利用這些煙壺的某種特色來推測其他玉器的來源。

    本煙壺一片葉呈陽刻的葉脈,其他葉子呈陰刻的葉脈。別的果實形和蔬菜形煙壺也呈現這個特徵,很可能是某一個作坊或某一個地區的特點。Treasury 1, 編號62 (本場拍賣會的拍賣品號 14 ) 也兼有這兩種葉脈刻法,跟本壺一樣也有唇狀的葉沿,並且也是美玉精雕細琢之作。

    本壺的果實形狀就是桃子典型的狀貌,兩正面的表面呈精雕的小凸點,這是這批煙壺常見的特點。葉子和折枝浮出瓶地,軟軟的葉子跟蒼勁的折枝彼此襯托,堪玩味。
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