A rock-crystal 'longevity' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, possibly palace workshops, 1750–1850
Lot 99
A rock-crystal 'longevity' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, possibly palace workshops, 1750–1850
Sold for HK$ 240,000 (US$ 30,956) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
A rock-crystal 'longevity' snuff bottle
Probably Imperial, possibly palace workshops, 1750–1850
5.28cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 2, no. 337

    水晶雕花瓣壽字紋鼻煙壺
    或為御製品,推定為宮廷作坊所作,1750~1850

    A rock-crystal 'longevity' snuff bottle

    ('The Mayer Floral Longevity Crystal')

    Flawless crystal; very well hollowed, with a concave lip and flat foot; carved with formalized, petal-shaped, scalloped faceting surrounding an incised, formalized shou ('longevity') character on each side
    Probably imperial, possibly palace workshops, 1750–1850
    Height: 5.28 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.59/1.75 cm
    Stopper: jadeite; vinyl collar

    Condition: Original material: a few small, icy flaws, not obtrusive; minor nibbling to some of the sharp edges of the facets, also not obtrusive. General relative condition: excellent

    Provenance:
    Marian Mayer
    Richard Bourne, Hyannis, Maine, 14 December 1988, lot 14
    Robert Hall (1989)

    Published:
    Hall 1989, no. 38
    Kleiner 1995, no. 247
    Treasury 2, no. 337

    Exhibited:
    J. J. Lally & Co, New York, October 1989
    British Museum, London, June–October 1995
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

    Commentary
    Although at first sight this snuff bottle seems quite different from Treasury 2, nos. 335 and 336, this is mainly because of the distinctive form and decoration. In fact, it has several features in common with them. It is similarly pure crystal (no. 335 only missed the designation 'flawless' because of a tiny flaw at the neck), similarly well carved, and formally impeccable, the central design of the shou character being made up of wheel-cut incisions that occur on both of those two examples, and the hollowing is equally well done and extensive. There is an impression that it is not quite so thinly hollowed, but this is due to the faceting. The hollowing at the points of the facets is thicker, but is about as thin as the other examples at the center of the panels.

    The formal group this bottle represents consists of similar bottles in a range of different materials. There are a number of crystal bottles known, many of which do not have the shou character at the centre of the formalized flower. They also occur in nephrite, jadeite (often of a pale grey-blue colour), and chalcedony. We have been unable to locate an undoubtedly genuine precise equivalent in glass, but there is a transparent sapphire blue bottle from the Marion Mayer Collection that is related in being, although more rounded, defined as a decagon by the faceting, and has similarly scalloped, or scooped out, facets, which are an unusual and distinctive feature of this group.

    Faceting was one of the standard forms of decoration at court, occurring in a wide range of glass bottles made at the palace workshops from the Kangxi period onwards, and on enamels on metal and glass, many of which have imperial reign marks. It seems likely that a reasonably large group of faceted bottles made in a variety of different materials, with wheel-cut decoration in some cases, was an imperial group probably made at the palace workshops rather than at a distant facility, although that remains a possibility. The existence of the jadeite examples in the group suggests that the design was still current after the 1770s, when jadeite became a popular alternative to nephrite and began to be valued similarly, and we are probably looking at a mid-Qing group, perhaps made of relatively flawless crystal imported from Turkestan after the occupation of 1759. Another imperial connection may be made through a bottle from the Monimar Collection (Lawrence 1996, no. 44) that has an identical shou medallion at its centre, but is otherwise of typical palace form and covered with imperial-looking chi dragons.

    水晶雕花瓣壽字紋鼻煙壺

    無瑕水晶;掏膛非常徹底, 凹唇,平底
    大概為御製品,或為宮廷作坊作,1750–1850
    高:5.28 厘米
    口經/唇經:0.59/1.75 厘米
    蓋: 翡翠; 乙烯基座

    狀態敘述: 質料: 呈些如冰瑕形狀的瑕疵,並不觸目; 小平面角棱有微不足道的咬痕,也並不觸目。一般相對的狀態: 極善

    來源:
    Marian Mayer
    Richard Bourne, Hyannis, Maine, 14 December 1988, 拍賣品號 14
    Robert Hall (1989)

    文獻:
    Hall 1989, 編號 38
    Kleiner 1995, 編號 247
    Treasury 2, 編號 337

    展覽:
    J. J. Lally & Co, New York, October 1989
    British Museum, London, June–October 1995
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

    說明
    本壺的型式有水晶的(或有壽字紋)、有閃玉的、有翡翠旳(常常是青白色的),也有玉髓的例子。刻面是宮廷作坊常規的修飾,很多刻面金屬胎和玻璃胎的琺瑯彩煙壺是帶年號款的。有翡翠的刻面鼻煙壺,可知這種型式在1770年代以後還很流行,因為那是翡翠在國內開始受歡迎的時期。無瑕的水晶也大概是1759年,清朝平定了天山南麓的大和卓波羅尼都、小和卓霍集占叛亂以後才多起來的。
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