Transparent amber-brown glass with a few small air bubbles and semi- transparent, milky white glass; very well hollowed, with a ridged lip and small concave foot; carved in the form of a gourd cricket cage, its neck made up of a separate piece 1730-1850 Height: 5.2 cm Mouth/lip: 0.67/3.2 cm Stopper: stained bone or walrus ivory, carved with a free-standing, severed leafy branch with three peaches
Condition: three tiny chips on the raised rim on lip; long thread of black coloured glass running from lip to central body, probably intentional part of the original process; the usual surface abrasions and small scratches from age and wear
Provenance: Marian Mayer Collection, no.589 Richard Bourne, Hyannis, Mass., 14 December 1988, lot 199 Robert Hall (1989)
Published: Hall 1989, no. 100 Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 90 JICSBS, Summer 1998, p. 13 Treasury 5, no. 1061
Exhibited: J. J. Lally & Co., New York, October 1989 Hong Kong Museum of Art, March-June 1994 National Museum, Singapore, November 1994-February 1995
This unusual bottle represents a rare instance of two different segments being fixed together - apparently with glue - rather than bonded while in the liquid state by the glassmaker, in the manner in which cameo-overlays were prepared for the carver. Today, several bottles of this type are known, most of them modern copies of this one or the other genuine example (Geng and Zhao 1992, no. 11, also illustrated in JICSBS, Summer 1998, p. 13, fig. 30, where the number cited for Geng's book is incorrect, but where this example is also illustrated, providing a convenient comparison).
Brown glass of this type was typical of the imperial glassworks, and this might be an early, imperial response to palace gourds rather than a later one to the widespread nineteenth-century type. Although we leave a fairly wide dating range to reflect this uncertainty, we suspect a mid-Qing date to be the most likely, since both of the old bottles have what appear to be original stoppers that reflect the higher-relief, more artistic, and emphatic covers of the later, more popular gourds. Most of the more convincing Kangxi-marked examples have very simple, primarily functional lids displaying neither high-flying relief work nor piercing (see for instance, Tsang and Moss 1983, p. 62 and 63, nos. 21 23), suggesting fancier covers to have been a feature of the popularization of the art-form from the mid-Qing period onwards. The lid here is a delightful, well-carved example in walrus ivory, a popular mid-Qing material for a variety of small works of art, including snuff bottles and large numbers of dishes.