An inside-inscribed rock-crystal 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1898)
Lot 49
An inside-inscribed rock-crystal 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1898)
Sold for HK$ 187,500 (US$ 24,156) inc. premium

Lot Details
An inside-inscribed rock-crystal 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1898) An inside-inscribed rock-crystal 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1898) An inside-inscribed rock-crystal 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1898) An inside-inscribed rock-crystal 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1898) An inside-inscribed rock-crystal 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1898)
An inside-inscribed rock-crystal 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle
Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1898 (the bottle: 1770-1898)
7cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 4, no. 581

    水晶內書蘭亭序鼻煙壺
    馬少宣,北京牛街,1898年作

    An inside-inscribed rock-crystal 'Lanting Preface' snuff bottle

    Flawless crystal, ink, and watercolours; with a slightly concave lip and protruding concave foot surrounded by a flat footrim; inscribed on both main sides with an extract from Wang Xizhi's 'Lanting Preface', followed by 'The foregoing is] an extract', and by one seal of the artist, Shao, in negative seal script, the shoulders inscribed '[Executed] in the year wuxu of the Guangxu period by Ma Shaoxuan', followed by one seal of the artist, Shao, also in negative seal script, the inscriptions all in regular script
    Bottle: 1770-1898
    Painting: Ma Shaoxuan, Studio for Listening to the Qin, Ox Street district, Beijing, 1898
    Height: 7cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.49/1.29cm
    Stopper: jadeite

    Condition: Bottle: two very small chips to the lip, one inside and one outer; two chips on the outer footrim; one area of bruising and related cracks on neck running down from lip. Painting: studio condition

    Provenance:
    Sigurd Larsen
    Bob C. Stevens
    Sotheby's, New York, 26 March 1982, lot 240
    Janos Szekeres
    Sotheby's, New York, 27 October 1986, lot 230

    Published:
    Stevens 1976, no. 840
    Chinese Snuff Bottles and Dishes, no. 293
    Snuff Bottle Review, December 1978, p. 8
    JICSBS, Autumn 1986, p.1
    Kleiner 1987, no. 288
    JICSBS, Spring 1988, front cover
    Kleiner 1995, no. 411
    Ma Zengshan 1997, p. 84, figs. 87 and 88
    Treasury 4, no. 581

    Exhibited:
    Mikimoto Hall, Tokyo, October 1978
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
    Galeries Lafayette, Paris, April 1990 Creditanstalt, Vienna, May—June 1993 British Museum, London, June—November 1995
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July—November 1997
    Christie's, London, 1999
    Here are extracted the first twenty sentences (as defined by the original Chinese text, rather than Lin Yutang's translation, for which see Sale 1, lot 28) of Wang Xizhi's famous work.
    Ma's calligraphy in regular script was excellent by any standards and extraordinary considering the constraints of writing with a pen rather than a brush and on the inside surface of a snuff bottle. Although most of his works are backed with one side of calligraphy in regular script, he did, from time to time, do bottles which were entirely calligraphic. As a rule, these either consist of excerpts from, or the entire text of, the 'Lanting Preface' or some famous ancient poem. Ma Zengshan believes that Ma first thought of producing bottles inscribed only with calligraphy in 1898, but we have a record of one from 1894 and others from 1895, 1896, and 1897, apart from later versions.
    We suspect that this bottle was made for Ma to paint. There was a series of pear-shaped crystal bottles apparently made for the Beijing artists from the early 1890s into the twentieth century and, although of a much longer, more elegant form, this fits into the group. This and the others all display certain signs that they were made at the turn of the century rather than earlier. Here the detailing of the foot is unusual: the protruding foot has been scooped to give the impression of a recessed foot, but it ends up as neither a proper recession nor a normal concave foot. The unusualness of the form, however, does allow that it might just be an earlier, plain crystal bottle that happened to have an eccentric foot. Bottles of a series of elongated forms similar to this are known without any decoration.
    Whenever it was made, it inspired Ma Shaoxuan to produce one of his great masterpieces, with the characters faultlessly aligned in the tapering shape. Ma has gradually expanded the format of his calligraphy as he moves down the bottle to give the impression of evenly spaced calligraphy despite the unevenness of the form and he has achieved it so cleverly that without callipers one would not normally notice that there is a difference in breadth of three millimetres between the calligraphy at the top and at the bottom of his inscription. This cleverly gives the impression that the characters are in even, vertical lines while, at the same time, giving the impression that they also fill the available space. The addition of the inscription around the shoulders also helps with this illusion by diverting attention formally from the narrower upper area of characters and providing a wider stretch of characters to offset this narrowness.

    水晶內書蘭亭序鼻煙壺

    無瑕水晶、墨、水彩;微凹唇,突出凹底,平底圈足,兩正面題王羲之《蘭亭序》一部分,最後一行以"節錄"結尾,其後畫白文"少"篆印,肩部上書"時在光緒戊戌馬少宣",其後畫白文"少"篆印
    壺﹕1770-1898
    內畫﹕馬少宣,北京牛街,1898
    高﹕ 7厘米
    口經/唇經: 0.49/1.29厘米
    蓋﹕翡翠

    狀態敘述:壺﹕唇內外緣各呈一道細小的缺口,圈足外壁有兩道缺口;頸部有一群擦傷及裂縫。內畫﹕出齋狀態

    來源﹕
    Sigurd Larsen
    Bob C. Stevens
    紐約蘇富比, 1982年3月26日,拍賣品號 240
    Janos Szekeres
    紐約蘇富比,1986年10月27日,拍賣品號 230

    文獻﹕
    Stevens 1976, 編號840
    Chinese Snuff Bottles and Dishes, 編號293
    Snuff Bottle Review, December 1978, 頁 8
    《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》, 1986年秋期,頁1
    Kleiner 1987, 編號288
    《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》, 1988年春期,封面
    Kleiner 1995, 編號411
    Ma Zengshan 1997, 頁 84, 圖87 及 88
    Treasury 4, 編號581

    展覽﹕
    Mikimoto Hall, Tokyo, October 1978
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
    Galeries Lafayette, Paris, April 1990
    Creditanstalt, Vienna, May—June 1993
    大英博物館,1995年6月~11月
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July—November 1997
    倫敦佳士得,1999

    說明﹕
    本壺節錄《蘭亭序》 前二十句;參閱 第一場拍賣會,拍賣品號 28。巧妙的是,每一行的間隔看起來是一樣的,但是因為壺身下部逐漸豐滿,下邊的間隔比上邊的間隔實際上有三毫米的差異。不用測徑器來測量,大概不會意識到馬少宣的伶俐。
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