A carved white glass 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, Hangzhou, dated 1901 (the bottle: possibly Yuanhu, Zhejiang province, circa 1901)
Lot 21
A carved white glass 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, Hangzhou, dated 1901 (the bottle: possibly Yuanhu, Zhejiang province, circa 1901)
Sold for HK$ 106,250 (US$ 13,695) inc. premium

Lot Details
A carved white glass 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, Hangzhou, dated 1901 (the bottle: possibly Yuanhu, Zhejiang province, circa 1901) A carved white glass 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, Hangzhou, dated 1901 (the bottle: possibly Yuanhu, Zhejiang province, circa 1901) A carved white glass 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, Hangzhou, dated 1901 (the bottle: possibly Yuanhu, Zhejiang province, circa 1901) A carved white glass 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, Hangzhou, dated 1901 (the bottle: possibly Yuanhu, Zhejiang province, circa 1901) A carved white glass 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, Hangzhou, dated 1901 (the bottle: possibly Yuanhu, Zhejiang province, circa 1901) A carved white glass 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, Hangzhou, dated 1901 (the bottle: possibly Yuanhu, Zhejiang province, circa 1901) A carved white glass 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, Hangzhou, dated 1901 (the bottle: possibly Yuanhu, Zhejiang province, circa 1901) A carved white glass 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Zhou Honglai, Hangzhou, dated 1901 (the bottle: possibly Yuanhu, Zhejiang province, circa 1901)
A carved white glass 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle
Zhou Honglai, Hangzhou, dated 1901 (the bottle: possibly Yuanhu, Zhejiang province, circa 1901)
5.4cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 5, no. 1050

    白玻璃刻蘭亭序句鼻煙壺
    壺:或浙江省鴛湖,約1901年製
    刻文:周鴻來,杭州,1901年刻

    A carved white glass 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle

    Semi-transparent white glass; with a flat lip and protruding footrim; engraved on one main side with a scholar seated beside a bamboo grove on a grassy bank gazing at the moon, the other main side with an excerpt from the 'Lanting Preface' (lines 17 - 38), followed by, 'Made by Yanbin jushi at Quantang in early summer of the year xinchou of the Guangxu period', followed by one seal of the artist in negative seal script, Zhou, the foot engraved in seal script Xinquan zhenshang ('Treasured by Xinquan') within a rectangular cartouche
    Bottle: possibly Yuanhu, Zhejiang province, circa 1901
    Decoration: Zhou Honglai, Hangzhou, summer, 1901
    Height: 5.4 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.6/1.7 cm
    Stopper: glass; vinyl collar

    Condition: two tiny, insignificant chips to the edge of the footrim; minor surface abrasions from wear; otherwise, studio condition

    Provenance:
    Robert Hall (1991)

    Published:
    Hall 1991, no. 89
    Treasury 5, no. 1050

    Exhibited:
    Office of Maître Jutheau, Paris, September 1991
    Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Boston, October 1991

    The name Quantang confused us in Treasury 5, no. 1050, but it turns out to be an old name for Qiantang, or Hangzhou. We already knew Zhou Honglai was working there in 1901 (Treasury 5, no. 1051) as well as in 1903 (Sale 3, lot 8).

    We might also add some clarification on Yuanhu, which we have been identifying as a likely source for Zhou's bottles, locating it vaguely in Zhejiang province (see, for example, Sale 2, lot 25). Yuanhu is indeed in that province but, more precisely, it is in the centre of Jiaxing (Yuanhu is presently called Nanhu, 'South Lake'), and it was a well-known scenic spot in the Ming and Qing dynasties. One wonders whether Zhou used it simply as an elegant name for the city. Jiaxing is close enough to Hangzhou that he could have easily gone back and forth, perhaps working there when he had a commission from a client, as seems to have been the case with Sale 2, lot 25. (The translation in our caption there erroneously states that the engraving was done at the request of Youmei; in fact, it was done for Youmei to 'correct', as one would politely suggest to the recipient of one's gift.)

    Most of the bottles used by Zhou Honglai are of a standard range of rather dull, semi-transparent white glass in distinctive shapes that appear with such frequency that they must surely have been produced for him. Many lack foot rims and display only a protruding flat foot. These bottles possess so little artistic appeal in their own right that they were surely considered as no more than 'canvases' for Zhou's art.

    The subject here is one of his larger-scale figures in landscape, and so similar to the decoration on the bottle bearing a version of Wang Su's painting (Sin, Hui, and Kwong 1996, no. 61) that it must surely have been inspired by the same work. The long inscription on the other main side is the popular 'Lanting Preface' by Wang Xizhi (for details and a full translation, see Sale 1, lot 28).

    A microscopic examination of Zhou's writing reveals instances where the artist has obviously used multiple incisions to broaden a stroke, but the fluency of the calligraphy is not merely similar to brush work, but impressive even by brush work standards. Here, Zhou has succeeded in a magnificent imitation of brush work, with broad, oblique beginnings to strokes, and all the other flourishes, twists and turns one expects of that medium.

    The Xinquan mark on the base is one of at least four known owner's inscriptions added by Zhou and, since they are all different, we may safely assume most of them identify an owner rather than the artist himself. It is likely that Zhou was usually commissioned (it is a certainty in some cases), so it is possible that he would add the studio or art name of the patron. There was a Cao Xinquan who lived 1864 – 1938 and was involved in the theatrical world in Beijing, where snuffing was popular. The Marakovic Collection contains a Jingdezhen-made enamelled porcelain bottle with the name of the school's hall in Beijing on it; it was in that hall that Cao Xinquan died. If Cao's school commissioned snuff bottles, we would not be surprised to see that someone had a snuff bottle made for him. But there are many other people who took the name Xinquan, so we cannot conclusively say which one of them was to 'treasure and enjoy' this bottle.

    白玻璃刻蘭亭序句鼻煙壺

    半透明白 玻璃;平唇,突出圈足;一正面刻竹林望月圖,一正面刻《蘭亭序》第十七句到第三十八句,後加 "光緒辛丑初夏,鴈賓居士作於泉塘",以白文"周"結尾,底刻 "心泉珍賞" 篆書單圈款
    壺﹕或許應屬鴛湖,約 1901年
    修飾﹕周鴻來,杭州 1901年夏
    高﹕ 5.4 厘米
    口經/唇經: 0.6/1.7 厘米
    蓋﹕玻璃; 乙烯基座

    狀態敘述:圈足棱呈兩道微不足道的缺口; 經過歲月的觸摸以後,畏懼有所磨耗;此外,出齋狀態

    來源﹕
    羅伯特.霍爾 (1991)

    文獻﹕
    Hall 1991, 編號89
    Treasury 5, 編號1050

    展覽﹕
    Office of Maître Jutheau, Paris, September 1991
    Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Boston, October 1991

    說明﹕
    泉塘就是杭州。周鴻來1901 (Treasury 5, 編號1051) 、 (第三場拍賣會, 拍賣品號8) 居杭州。

    鴛湖就是嘉興南湖,是明清的遊賞勝地。也許周鴻來指的就是嘉興,可是不管怎麼樣,那個地方離杭州不遠,可以隨時往來。周鴻來刻的半透明白玻璃壺多半具特殊的形式,大概是特地為他製的。

    心泉大概不是周鴻來,是他的顧客。可能是有名的戲曲音樂家曹心泉(1864~1938)。在北京的戲曲界中,聞鼻煙這個嗜好特別流行。
    Marakovic 珍藏收一件景德鎮燒的瓷胎畫琺瑯彩鼻煙壺,那壺上有曹家崑曲學派的敬喜堂的名字。所以,曹派與鼻煙壺有一定的關係的。並且,曹心泉就是在那座堂上逝世的。 我可以合乎情理地推測,本壺是給曹心泉作的。不過號心泉的人還很多,我們目前沒法子證明要珍賞本壺的人一定是曹心泉。
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