A nephrite pebble-material 'dragons' snuff bottle Possibly Master of the Rocks school, possibly Suzhou, 1740–1850
Lot 57
A nephrite pebble-material 'dragons' snuff bottle Possibly Master of the Rocks school, possibly Suzhou, 1740–1850
Sold for HK$ 144,000 (US$ 18,570) inc. premium
Auction Details
A nephrite pebble-material 'dragons' snuff bottle Possibly Master of the Rocks school, possibly Suzhou, 1740–1850 A nephrite pebble-material 'dragons' snuff bottle Possibly Master of the Rocks school, possibly Suzhou, 1740–1850 A nephrite pebble-material 'dragons' snuff bottle Possibly Master of the Rocks school, possibly Suzhou, 1740–1850
Lot Details
A nephrite pebble-material 'dragons' snuff bottle
Possibly Master of the Rocks school, possibly Suzhou, 1740–1850
6.45cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 1, no. 132

    墨玉雕雲龍紋鼻煙壺
    或為卵石皮浮雕大師流派,大概作於蘇州,1740~1850

    A nephrite pebble-material 'dragons' snuff bottle

    ('The Masterly Suzhou Pebble')

    Nephrite of pebble material; very well hollowed; carved with a continuous design of four dragons, one of which emits a cloud of vapour from its mouth in which two raised bosses are carved, perhaps intended to be pearls, and another of which has a somewhat chi-like head, amidst formalized clouds
    Possibly Master of the Rocks school, possibly Suzhou 1740–1850
    Height: 6.45 cm
    Mouth: 0.54 cm
    Stopper: tourmaline; jade collar

    Condition: Original material: some flaws incorporated into the design. Bottle: miniscule insignificant chip to mouth; otherwise, in workshop condition

    Provenance:
    P. Y. Tu (Hong Kong, 1975)
    Gerd Lester (1986)

    Published:
    Kleiner 1987, no. 51
    Treasury 1, no. 132

    Exhibited:
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
    Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June, 1993
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1997

    Commentary
    There are several reasons to believe that this example may be of the school we have designated 'Master of the Rocks school' (see Sale 2, lot 148). The pebble material is typical, although it was undoubtedly also used by many other workshops. The masterly carving and use of the different colours in the stone is also typical, although again certainly not exclusive to this school. Another link is found in variegated grey material and the simple cross-hatching of the scales on the bodies of the dragons, the existence of which on all four beasts suggests that the one with a chi-like head is intended to be a proper dragon, on the grounds that chi dragons are rarely depicted with scales. The grey material is known from two other bottles of this school (see Hall 1989, no. 128, and Hall 1991, no. 37). The former also employs the unusual diagonal cross-hatching for the foliage of one of the trees.

    A second possible source would be Suzhou. The material would fit such an attribution equally well, and there is one known Suzhou chalcedony snuff bottle that also uses this type of cross-hatching for the foliage of a tree (see Sale 1, lot 14). It also has superbly carved formalized clouds that are very similar to those found here. Eventually, no doubt, other bottles will be discovered that will resolve this question of original provenance, but at present we propose the possibility of it being a work of either school and, indeed, there is a possibility that the Master of the Rocks school also came from Suzhou and that this is a link between the two local styles.

    A third possibility is an as-yet-unidentified source such as Yangzhou or Hangzhou. Reputedly, both had an important jade-carving industry, and yet no jades have been identified as coming from either centre.
    Whichever school it came from, the carving and use of the material are superb. The dragons, carved with an essentialized naïveté, as noted by Kleiner, are offset against crisply carved, beautifully finished, and dynamically flowing clouds, with every nuance of colour superbly used to distinguish the various elements of the design, a feature more readily associated with Suzhou but not out of the question for the Master of the Rocks school (see, for instance, no. 133).

    P. Y Tu, who once owned this bottle, was an eccentric dealer who operated from his home in Kowloon in the 1970s and early 1980s before moving to the United States. He was endowed with excellent taste in snuff bottles and bought most of his bottles directly from China at a time when this was still a regular and reasonable source of supply. He is perhaps best known for the fact that, refusing to install air-conditioning in his amazingly crowded apartment, he waited on his clients for most of the year dressed only in his underpants
    and vest. His standard garb was unvaried even for the most fashionably-dressed female collectors from Europe and America, and his taste in floppy boxer-shorts seems to have done nothing to harm his business, which flourished until his source of supply in China began to dry up in the early 1980s.

    墨玉雕雲龍紋鼻煙壺

    卵石料; 掏膛徹底
    或為卵石皮浮雕大師流派作,或許作於蘇州,1740–1850
    高:6.45 厘米
    口經: 0.54 厘米
    蓋: 碧璽;玉 座

    狀態敘述:質料: 有些瑕疵雕成圖案的成分。.壺:口呈微不足道的缺口; 此外,出坊狀態

    來源:
    P. Y. Tu (Hong Kong, 1975)
    Gerd Lester (1986)

    文獻:
    Kleiner 1987, 編號 51
    Treasury 1, 編號 132

    展覽:
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
    Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June, 1993
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1997

    說明
    我們認為這件煙壺是 '卵石皮浮雕大師流派' 作的 (參見 第二場排賣會, 拍賣品號 148). 同樣的灰白質料見於see Hall 1989, 編號 128以及 Hall 1991, 編號 37。本壺也可能是蘇州作的。第一場排賣會,拍賣品號 14 在樹葉中呈現類似的交叉線。當然,卵石皮浮雕大師流派很可能就是蘇州的琢玉流派,而這件煙壺是兩個地方琢玉傳統之間的連接。
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