An inscribed emerald-green glass overlay 'Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1850)
Lot 111
An inscribed emerald-green glass overlay 'Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1850)
Sold for HK$ 250,000 (US$ 32,225) inc. premium

Lot Details
An inscribed emerald-green glass overlay 'Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1850) An inscribed emerald-green glass overlay 'Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1850) An inscribed emerald-green glass overlay 'Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1850) An inscribed emerald-green glass overlay 'Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1850) An inscribed emerald-green glass overlay 'Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1850) An inscribed emerald-green glass overlay 'Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1850) An inscribed emerald-green glass overlay 'Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1850) An inscribed emerald-green glass overlay 'Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1850)
An inscribed emerald-green glass overlay 'Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse' snuff bottle
Zhou Honglai, 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1850)
6.01cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 5, no. 1049

    白套綠玻璃天馬賦鼻煙壺
    壺:1770-1850
    刻文:周鴻來,1898年作

    An inscribed emerald-green glass overlay 'Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse' snuff bottle

    Transparent emerald-green glass and translucent white glass; with a flat lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim; engraved on one main side with a horse, inscribed in draft script, 'Executed by Qiandaoren' (The man who submerges himself in the Way), with one seal of the artist, possibly Ding, the other main side with Mi Fu's Rhapsody on a Heavenly Horse, also in draft script, preceded by the seal, possibly of the artist, yixiao ('a laugh'), the title of the rhapsody, and the date 'late-spring month of the wuxu year of the Guangxu reign', and followed by, 'For the pure enjoyment of Jianqiu, the honourable elder brother, engraved by Yanbin, [alias] his humble younger brother, Zhou Honglai', with one seal of the artist in positive seal script, Zhou
    Bottle: 1770-1850
    Decoration: Zhou Honglai, 1898
    Height: 6.01 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.7/1.4 cm
    Stopper: tourmaline; glass collar

    Condition: small chip towards the top of one ring handle; outer lip slightly reduced to remove chips

    Provenance:
    Gerd Lester (1986)

    Published:
    Treasury 5, no. 1049

    It is fitting that the earliest dated bottle by Zhou Honglai in the collection should be an earlier overlay glass bottle that could, conceivably, have been produced at Yangzhou. We are thus invited to make a serendipitous progression from the Yangzhou-school overlays to Zhou's works. The matching of overlay colour to footrim is poor, with the green bleeding extensively into the foot. It exhibits a surface as well-worn as that of any glass bottle in the collection, but since the wear does not encroach upon the engraving, we may be sure it was already there when Zhou carried out his work.

    Zhou Honglai's works are calligraphy and painting executed with a diamond point, the bottles being simply a 'canvas' for the art, and the focus remains firmly on the art of Zhou Honglai rather than the art of the snuff bottle. In that respect, these are similar to the works of Zhou Leyuan and Ding Erzhong, for while it is a bonus to find a fine old crystal bottle serving as a 'canvas' for their paintings inside snuff bottles, the bottle is never the main feature.

    Zhou Honglai was among the finest of the artists who specialized in micro-engraving at the end of the Qing dynasty. He worked mostly on glass, but occasionally on porcelain (see Jutheau 1980, p. 95, also illustrated in Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty, no. 244). Although Zhou was a native of Baimen (an old name for Nanjing), some works are inscribed as made at other places, including Hangzhou, which he describes visiting (see Sale 3, lot 8). Qiandaoren may be his name, or it may be an artist from whom he borrowed the image of the horse. The scholar and calligrapher Wang Naizheng (1861-1933) also adopted the name in his later years, but since this bottle is dated 1898, when Wang was still under forty years of age, we suspect this is no more than a coincidence.

    The subject matter here is unusual, for Zhou customarily limited himself to those typical of literati paintings - landscape scenes, often including scholars enjoying themselves in a relaxed manner, sometimes with the scholar as the main subject of the 'painting' - all rendered on a tiny scale. Apart from these he produced a fairly standard scholarly range of flora - often blossoming prunus branches - or, less often, birds in branches. This is the only picture of a horse by Zhou that we have found, this one symbolizing a gifted person, whereas an unsaddled horse indicates potential and the desire for a bright and prosperous future.

    The text Zhou has chosen is by Mi Fu (1051-1107) one of the four great calligraphers of the Northern Song dynasty. Many calligraphers and intellectuals have copied the text in their own hands, including figures as disparate as the great Ming artist Dong Qichang and the late Qing reformer Kang Youwei.

    The short preface, which is not included here, reveals that Mi Fu was inspired to write this eulogy after seeing a Tang-dynasty painting of a powerful steed and being overcome by sadness that such spirited horses were no longer to be found. We have resisted attempting a translation of the text—we are unaware of any rendering in any Western language—but we have taken time to provide the text, with punctuation but not collated with the text on the bottle, in the Chinese version of this commentary.

    白套綠玻璃天馬賦鼻煙壺

    透亮白地套透明鮮綠料;平唇,凸斂底,突出圈足,圈足底為一圓棱;;一正面刻一匹馬,上題"潛道人作",後鈐一印,或為"丁"字;反正書米芾《天馬賦》,引首為"一笑"印,文題下寫"時在光緒戉戍季春月",賦文後寫"劍秋四兄大人清玩,鴈賓弟周鴻來刻",以黑文"周"篆印結尾,側面刻獸首啣環耳
    壺﹕1770-1850
    修飾﹕周鴻來,1898
    高﹕ 6.01 厘米
    口經/唇經: 0.7/1.4 厘米
    蓋: 碧璽;玻璃座

    狀態敘述:一環耳上呈一小缺口,唇外沿有削除缺口而稍微減削的地方

    來源﹕
    Gerd Lester (1986)

    文獻﹕
    Treasury 5, 編號1049

    說明﹕
    這是本珍藏中周鴻來注名年月最早的作品。因為套料和圈足不太重合,壺有可能是在揚州製的。可是這一定是舊壺新用,壺本身不過是"畫布"而已。


    周鴻來是清末微刻藝術家最早的之一。他主要用玻璃刻,但有時候用陶瓷 (見 Jutheau 1980, 頁 95,同壺也發表於 Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty, 編號244)。他是白門(南京)人,但有的作品是在杭州等地作的 (見 第三場拍賣會, 拍賣品號8)。

    潛道人可能是周鴻來的別名,也可能是原件馬圖的畫者。有書法家王乃徵 者(1861-1933),據說晚年號潛道人,但本壺是1898修飾的,那時王乃徵還沒到四十歲,不算晚年。待考。

    《天馬賦》有序,本壺不錄﹕髙公繪君素家有唐韓幹圖,于闐所進黄馬一軸,馬翹舉雄傑,余感今無此馬,故作賦云
    賦文如下。 我們沒有把原本與壺文對校。
    方唐牧之至盛,有天骨之超俊,勒四十萬之數而随,方以分色焉,此馬居其中以為鎭,目星角而電發,蹄踠踣以風迅,鬐龍顒以孤起,耳鳳聳而雙峻,翠華建而出步,閶闔下而輕噴,低駑羣而不嘶,横秋風以獨韻,若夫躍溪舒急,冒絮征叛,直突則建德項縶,横馳則世充領斷,皆絶材以比德,敢伺蹶而致吝,豈肯浪逐苜蓿之坡,葢當下視八方之駿,髙標雄跨而獅子攘獰,逸氣下衰而照夜矜穩。於是風靡格頺,色妙才駘,入仗不動,終日如坏,乃得玊為銜飾,繡作鞍儓,棗秣粟豢,肉脹筋埋,其報德也,葢不如偷盧噬盜,策蹇勝柴,鑄黄蝸而吐水,畫白澤以除災,但覺駞埀就節,鼠伏防猜,怒雖甚厲,馴號斯諧,誓俛首以畢世,未伏櫪以興懐,嗟乎所謂英風頓盡,冗仗髙排,若不市駿骨致龍媒如此馬者,一旦天子廵朔方,升喬岳,掃四塞之塵,校岐陽之獵,則飛黄騕褭,躡雲追電,何所從而遽來。
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