An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Qiao sisters' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1901 (the bottle: 1750-1860)
Lot 40
An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Qiao sisters' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1901 (the bottle: 1750-1860)
Sold for HK$ 275,000 (US$ 35,481) inc. premium
Auction Details
An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Qiao sisters' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1901 (the bottle: 1750-1860) An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Qiao sisters' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1901 (the bottle: 1750-1860) An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Qiao sisters' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1901 (the bottle: 1750-1860) An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Qiao sisters' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1901 (the bottle: 1750-1860) An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Qiao sisters' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1901 (the bottle: 1750-1860)
Lot Details
An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Qiao sisters' snuff bottle
Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1901 (the bottle: 1750-1860)
Sold with accompanying watercolour by Peter Suart
6.88cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 4, no. 586

    水晶內畫喬家姊妹鼻煙壺
    馬少宣,北京牛街,1901年作

    An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Qiao sisters' snuff bottle

    Flawless crystal, ink, and watercolours; with a concave lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim; painted on one main side with the Qiao sisters seated reading a book together on a chair with bamboo-shaped openwork back and arms and a brocade seat, inscribed in regular script '[Executed] in the eleventh month of the year xinchou by Ma Shaoxuan' with one seal of the artist, Shaoxuan, in negative seal script, the other main side with an assemblage of books, ink rubbings, calligraphic specimens, a letter, a folding fan painted with a branch of peony and bearing the name Nantian, with one illegible seal, a money order and a political communiqué
    Bottle: 1760–1880
    Painting: Ma Shaoxuan, Studio for Listening to the Qin, Ox Street district, Beijing, eleventh month, 1901
    Height: 6.1 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.56/1.8 and 1.72 cm (oval)
    Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar
    Illustration: watercolour by Peter Suart

    Condition: outer lip slightly repolished to remove tiny chips Icy flaws in the material showing at the foot and rim and up one narrow side, resulting in very small depressions - part of original carving process; minor spoon scratching on the interior, but not obtrusive. General relative condition: excellent.

    Provenance:
    Jade House, Hong Kong (1985)

    Published:
    Kleiner 1987, no. 290
    1987 Exhibition poster
    Orientations, February 1992, p. 70
    Ma Zengshan 1997, p. 33, figs. 7 and 8
    Treasury 4, no. 586

    Exhibited:
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
    Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993
    Christie's, London, 1999
    This is another of Ma's masterpieces, combining two of his favourite subjects from the early years.

    The two Qiao sisters lived at the end of the Han and the beginning of the Three Kingdoms period. They were rare among famous ancient beauties insofar as they were never accused of causing the fall of a dynasty or chaos in a court. They also figured in an anecdote with which all but the most backward peasant Chinese would have been familiar. The elder Qiao sister was married to Sun Ce, the founder of Wu, one of the three polities that claimed to inherit the mantel of the Han; the younger Qiao sister was married to the renowned general Zhou Yu (175–210), Sun Ce's childhood friend and a critical supporter of Sun in the establishment of Wu. Like some recent royal marriages in an island nation off the coast of France, these marriages had an appealing story-book magic. For more on this subject, see Treasury 4, no. 578.

    Although ten items have been depicted here, this kind of composition is generally referred to as 'bapo' ('eight brokens'). The broken, or incomplete, state of these objects is suggestive of another word, sui, which means 'fragmentary' but is homophonous with the word sui meaning 'year.' In other words, by means of punning, bapo evokes baisui, which means 'one hundred years.' The significance embedded in this kind of design is, therefore, once again the much longed-for longevity. For more details, see Berliner 1992. The partially obscured nature of so many of the documents in compositions of this kind makes it difficult to identify them all beyond a doubt, but we have identified a number of them in the caption. The signature that appears on the folding fan without its fan-frames is Nantian, the assumed name of Yun Shouping (1633– 1690). The scrap of red paper at the top of the composition bears the name of Zuo Zongtang (1812–1885), who not only played a crucial role in putting down the Taiping and Nian rebellions (in 1864 and 1868, respectively) but also suppressed Yakub Beg's Islamic state in Turkestan in 1877, leading to the creation of Xinjiang province. In the second row, the cream-coloured document on the left, partially covered, is a quatrain by Tang poet Meng Haoran (680–740).

    Although the neater assemblage of documents of Sale 3, lot 37, was produced regularly as early as 1895, the 'Eight Brokens' does not appear on an inside-painted snuff bottle until 1897, when Ma painted it several times. The documents change slightly from time to time, but they are obviously a very similar composition with only minor variations. Most of the major documents re-appear in all of them. Another exquisite version of this composition, but in a pear-shaped crystal bottle, was illustrated in Geng and Zhao 1992, no. 337.

    水晶內畫喬家姊妹鼻煙壺

    無瑕水晶、墨、水彩; 凹唇,平斂底,突出圈足,足底完全接觸地面 ; 一正面內畫二喬圖,一正面內畫博古圖,二喬 圖上題"辛丑冬月,馬少宣,"後鈐白文"少宣"一篆印
    壺﹕1760–1880
    內畫﹕馬少宣,北京牛街,1901冬
    高﹕ 6.1 厘米
    口經/唇經: 0.56/1.8 及 1.72 厘米 (橢圓形)
    蓋: 碧璽;乙烯基座
    帶有彼德小話 (Peter Suart) 水彩畫

    狀態敘述:壺﹕水晶底、圈足、一側面呈冰狀瑕疵,唇外緣輕輕地磨平了微乎其微的缺口;內畫﹕內壁呈微不足道的匙刮痕,並不引人注目。 一般性相對的狀態﹕極善

    來源﹕
    Jade House, Hong Kong (1985)

    文獻﹕
    Kleiner 1987, 編號290
    1987 Exhibition poster
    Orientations, February 1992, 頁 70
    Ma Zengshan 1997, 頁 33, 圖7 及 8
    Treasury 4, 編號586

    展覽﹕
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
    Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993
    倫敦佳士得,1999

    說明﹕
    博古圖亦稱百歲圖、八破圖等,參閱Berliner 1992. 跟 第三場拍賣會, 拍賣品號 37比,本壺圖上的東西既古老亦破碎。1897年以降,馬少宣畫了多次八破圖,精粹的有如耿寶昌,趙炳華 1992, 編號337.


Activities
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first HKD800,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from HKD800,001 to HKD1,000,000 of the Hammer Price
12% on the excess over HKD1,000,000 of the Hammer Price.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Contacts
  1. Vincent Wu
    Auction Administration - Chinese Paintings
    Bonhams
    Work
    Suite 2001, One Pacific Place
    Hong Kong
    Work + 852 3607 0016
  2. Meilin Wang
    Specialist - Chinese Paintings
    Bonhams
    Work
    Suite 2001, One Pacific Place
    Hong Kong
    Work +852 2918 4321
    FaxFax: +852 2918 4320