Transparent ruby-red glass, with a few, sparsely scattered air bubbles, mostly of small size; with a flat lip and recessed, slightly concave foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim 1720-1780 Height: 3 cm Mouth/lip: 0.5/.83 cm Stopper: glass; vinyl collar; mother-of-pearl finial
Condition: insignificant chip on outer footrim polished off
Provenance: Thewlis Collection Clare Lawrence (1990)
Published: Thewlis and Lawrence, 1990, p.58, no.88 Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no.88 Treasury 5, no. 679
Exhibited: Hong Kong Museum of Art, March-June 1994 National Museum, Singapore, November 1994-February 1995
Here we enter the realm of the emphatically miniature, most comfortably held between the thumb and fingertips, too small for the palm. Formally, it provides an example of the inner bubble from the blow-iron not conforming precisely to the outer form, the formal integrity of which is excellent. Another intriguing feature is that the recessed foot is slightly concave. There are three possibilities for a recessed foot on a glass bottle: concave, flat, or convex. Contrary to some popular recent beliefs about distinguishing between old and new glass bottles based in part upon which of these three profiles is used, all three exist on old bottles, although with early examples the concave foot is the rarest. If there is a footrim, the cutting of the foot would have been the work of a lapidary, so while there is no particular need to keep to the natural convex exterior surface of blown glass, it was a frequently exercised aesthetic option. The only exception to this is provided by bottles blown into a preformed mould that includes the foot profile. In general practice, a flat foot or convex foot is the natural choice, since a concave one not only sits less well in general with the curving sides of the bottle, but also involves unnecessary extra work with little discernible advantage. The foot here, therefore, while a rarity, is obviously a considered choice with some formal purpose, since it is superbly achieved on an equally well-detailed bottle, and is unlikely to be the result of a careless carver going too deep and having to hide his error by using a concave foot profile.
There is considerable inner swirling of the colour here, together with some scattered air bubbles of different sizes, which may indicate an early date. The overall impression, however, as with so much eighteenth-century ruby glass, is one of brilliance and clarity. It is not until one examines the bottle with a magnifying glass that some lack of purity becomes evident.