A yellow nephrite snuff bottle 1700–1850
Lot 32
A yellow nephrite snuff bottle 1700–1850
Sold for HK$ 456,000 (US$ 58,819) inc. premium

Lot Details
A yellow nephrite snuff bottle 1700–1850 A yellow nephrite snuff bottle 1700–1850
A yellow nephrite snuff bottle
1700–1850
5.72cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 1, no. 167

    黃玉光素鼻煙壺

    A yellow nephrite snuff bottle

    ('The Harris Yellow Jade')

    Nephrite; very well hollowed, with a recessed foot
    1700–1850
    Height: 5.72 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.87/1.67 cm
    Stopper: coral; vinyl collar

    Condition: Tiny scratch line on one narrow side; part of original process. Workshop condition

    Provenance:
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd.
    William Harris
    Robert Hall (1984)

    Published:
    Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 30
    Treasury 1, no. 167

    Exhibited:
    Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
    National Museum, Singapore, November 1994–February 1995

    Commentary
    This is of a similar range of material to Sale 2, lot 127, of the colour known today as 'yellow' jade and by Zhao Zhiqian in the 1860s as 'yellow steamed-chestnut'. We also know, from the inscription on the imperial snuff bottle, Treasury 1, no. 112, that the Qianlong emperor himself referred to an even more greenish-tinged jade as yellow.

    The extensive hollowing of this bottle seems to give the surface a delightful translucency, revealing the minutely flecked, fibrous appearance of the material.
    It fits comfortably into the range of super-hollowed bottles, many of which have a wide mouth. It is certainly as elegant and perfect an oval bottle as is known.

    The popularity of yellow nephrite in imperial circles, which is evident during the Qing period but may have existed earlier, presumably reflects a desire to find in this most valued of Chinese materials a close and entirely natural equivalent to the imperial colour. The symbolic meaning of nature producing its most valued stone within the Chinese aesthetic to match the colour reserved for the use of the emperor would have been irresistible.

    The grouping and dating of plain stone bottles is extremely difficult. A bottle like this could have been made at any time during the eighteenth or early nineteenth century, and even, as an exception, at a later date, although this is unlikely. It probably dates from the Qianlong period, and perhaps from after the introduction of massive amounts of raw material from Turkestan from 1759 onwards, but the Qianlong impetus in jade carving apparently continued well into the early nineteenth century. As yet we know too little about this fascinating period in snuff-bottle history to exercise much confidence in accurately dating any but a few exceptional bottles to within a decade or two, let alone plain ones such as this.

    We have frequently spoken about formal integrity. The term refers to the degree of perfection achieved in the basic form of a bottle. If the chosen shape is perfectly symmetrical, evenly balanced, and with flowing lines where nothing interrupts the visual delight of pure form, then it is of perfect formal integrity. If it has one shoulder higher than the other, a neck slightly to one side, one side-profile different from the other, or an unbalanced foot, then the formal integrity is flawed, and the form visually less impressive, unless, of course, it is asymmetrical by choice, for artistic purposes. Poor formal integrity in a bottle that sets out to be a symmetrical formal statement as sculpture in the first place is a reflection of a lack of skill and commitment on the part of the carver, and on a plain bottle in particular it considerably diminishes the work of art. This perfection of formal integrity was obviously very important to the lapidary where form was the principal sculptural language, as it is with all plain bottles. The importance of this quality to the lapidary is demonstrated here. There is, low on one narrow side, a horizontal incision that survives from the initial process of roughly forming the shape of the bottle. The lapidary cut just a trifle too deeply in one area. It is far too precise to be an accidental incision, and too deep and confident to be a later scratch. By polishing down that area by less than half a millimetre it could have been removed entirely, but that would have fractionally spoiled the perfect formal integrity of the bottle, and that was obviously not an option in a bottle where formal integrity was paramount.

    黃玉光素鼻煙壺

    閃玉;掏膛徹底, 斂底
    1700–1850
    高:5.72 厘米
    口經/唇經:0.87/1.67 厘米
    蓋: 珊瑚;乙烯基座

    狀態敘述: 一側面呈一條纖細的抓痕;是製成本壺程序的結果。出坊狀態

    來源:
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd.
    William Harris
    Robert Hall (1984)

    文獻:
    Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, 編號 30
    Treasury 1, 編號 167

    展覽:
    Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
    National Museum, Singapore, November 1994–February 1995

    說明
    本壺的玉料很像第二場拍賣會,拍賣品號 127, 是今天所稱"黃玉";趙之謙管它叫黃蒸栗。掏膛超級,薄薄的壺壁呈著悅目的透明性。

    我們常常提到形式整合性的觀念。在光素的煙壺上,形式的完整是必不可少的。本壺在玉匠雕琢玉璞時,一不小心,側面下邊刻得太深,就形成了那道抓痕。怎麼辦呢?磨一磨半毫米就可以削除,可是那小小的整修就會破壞這件煙壺的形式整合性。魚與熊掌,玉匠終於取了形式整合者。
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