A faceted sapphire-blue 'aventurine'-splashed glass snuff bottle
Semi-transparent dark sapphire-blue glass, suffused with air bubbles of various sizes and with a hint of crizzling on the inside surface; with a flat lip and flat, rectangular foot; the two main sides with raised, faceted oval panels surrounded by further faceting Imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1725-1760 Height: 3.58 cm Mouth/lip: 0.67/1.01 cm Stopper: pearl; coral collar
Condition: Insignificant straches; possible polished lip
Provenance: Sotheby's, London, 9 October 1974, lot 234 White Wings Collection Robert Kleiner (1998)
Exhibited: L'Arcade Chaumet, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, June -August 1982
Commentary This is one of the rarest of all palace faceted glass bottles, being of the aventurine-glass and sapphire-blue group. The evidence strongly suggests that this type of glass was being made at the court as early as 1705 using imported aventurine-glass fragments to create the splashes. In view of additional dating criteria for this particular group, we are in a position to attribute it to the earlier part of the eighteenth century. Further indications of this early date are provided by the nature of the glass, which contains many air bubbles, some of them quite large, and also by the slightly uneven, swirly nature of the intense, purplish sapphire-blue colour.
In the course of a painstaking examination, we have managed to convince ourselves of a hint of interior crizzling. Any sapphire-blue glass from the late Kangxi period would probably be more heavily crizzled, so this helps us narrow the dating.
This provides a further example of a regal, ancient stopper matching a regal, ancient bottle. A gilt-bronze stopper of the type usually found on enamels on glass and metal would also have suited this bottle very well, but the pearl fulfilled a symbolic function as the finial on the emperor's court hat, and stoppers of this sort were probably originally used on bottles for the emperor.