A fine white jade snuff bottle  Suzhou, 1780-1850
Lot 1
A fine white jade snuff bottle Suzhou, 1780-1850
Sold for US$ 33,550 inc. premium
Lot Details
A fine white jade snuff bottle
Suzhou, 1780-1850
Exceptionally well hollowed, with flat lip and recessed concave oval foot, the pure white stone deftly carved on one of the main sides with an elderly gentleman seated on the steps of a bridge, with a younger figure stooped before him offering him a shoe, a three-character inscription above reading 拾鞋圖 (picking up the shoe), and one seal wen, the reverse carved with a mountainous landscape scene with pine trees, the narrow sides with rockwork, stopper.
2in (5.1cm) high (2).


  • 白玉刻拾鞋圖鼻煙壺

    Hugh Moss Ltd.

    The present bottle is a candidate for Suzhou production. The stylistic qualities bear relation to a group of late Ming to early Qing dynasty jades bearing the, mostly spurious, signature of Lu Zigang, which are carved in low relief and frequently bear inscriptions. For a discussion of the Suzhou school of jade carving, see H.Moss, V.Graham and K.B.Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J&J Collection, Vol.I, New York, 1993, pp.62-65.

    The subject matter shown depicts Zhang Liang (circa 262-189 BC), also known as Zifang, a strategist and statesman who contributed to the founding of the Han dynasty. One of the stories associated with this historical character as described in Sima Qian's Shiji (109-91 BC) tells how he came to meet Huang Shigong (literally 'Yellow Rock Old Man'), a legendary reclusive wise man. The story tells that one day when taking a stroll he met an old man on a bridge who had lost his shoe in the water below. Zhang obediently retrieved the shoe from the water and replaced it on the man's foot. The old man, impressed by Zhang's obedience, presented him with an ancient text on military strategy, with the admonition: 'He who studies this book shall become a king's preceptor'. This book was believed to be the Huang Shigong San Lue, (Three Strategies of Huang Shigong), one of China's Seven Military Classics. It is believed that Zhang studied the texts and used its teachings to assist him in his future military accomplishments. The same literary subject matter can be seen on a white jade pebble snuff bottle, also attributed to Suzhou, from the Meriem collection, sold at Christie's New York, 19 March 2008, lot 248.

    The literate subject matter of this bottle also ties in with the larger group of jade and hardstone carvings attributed to this group. It has been suggested that the presence of numerous cultural aesthetes in and around the city of Suzhou, which was a hub for painters and calligraphers, poets and musicians alike, influenced the decorative designs of the time, see M.C.Hughes, The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Chinese Snuff Bottles, Baltimore, 2009, p.56.

    For related white jade bottles from this group see an example in the Chester Beatty Library collection, illustrated by M.C.Hughes, ibid, no.40; three examples from the J&J collection, illustrated by H.Moss, V.Graham and K.B.Tsang, ibid, nos.21-23; and five from the Bloch collection, illustrated by H.Moss, V.Graham and K.B.Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles. The Mary and George Bloch Collection, Vol.I, Hong Kong, 1995, nos.117-121.
  1. Bruce MacLaren
    Specialist - Chinese Works of Art
    580 Madison Avenue
    New York, 10022
    United States
    Work +1 917 206 1677
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