An aquamarine 'chi dragon' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, 1760-1860
Lot 58
An aquamarine 'chi dragon' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, 1760-1860
Sold for HK$ 72,500 (US$ 9,347) inc. premium

Lot Details
An aquamarine 'chi dragon' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, 1760-1860 An aquamarine 'chi dragon' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, 1760-1860 An aquamarine 'chi dragon' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, 1760-1860 An aquamarine 'chi dragon' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, 1760-1860 An aquamarine 'chi dragon' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, 1760-1860
An aquamarine 'chi dragon' snuff bottle
Probably Imperial, 1760-1860
5.2cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 2, no. 410

    藍晶雕螭龍抱瓶鼻煙壺
    擬御製品,1760~1860

    An aquamarine 'chi dragon' snuff bottle

    Aquamarine; well hollowed, with a flat lip and concave foot surrounded by a narrow, flattened footrim; carved with a chi dragon
    Probably imperial, 1760–1860
    Height: 5.2 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.47/1.5 cm
    Stopper: tourmaline; partially-gilt silver collar

    Condition: natural iridescent flaws throughout; small dimple below the neck on the dragon side, part of the original process and for the purpose of removing a flaw; miniscule chip from the mouth of the dragon

    Provenance:
    Butterfield and Butterfield, San Francisco, 8 November 1984, lot 1733
    Thomas C. Van Nuys
    Robert Kleiner (1994)

    Published:
    Kleiner 1994, no. 62
    Treasury 3, no. 410

    The accumulation in the Bloch Collection of major early beryl snuff bottles, mostly of the aquamarine variety, may lead one to underestimate their relative rarity. They are much less common than they seem here.

    This is part of the early group distinguished by excellent material, fine workmanship and hollowing, and elongated ovoid forms, often exaggeratedly so, as in Sale 2, lot 3. They also relate to a group of glass bottles carved to imitate aquamarine, sensibly dated to the mid-Qing period and possibly ascribed to the court. Again, where we find glass and other stones in a coherent group, the palace or other multi-purpose imperial workshops suggest themselves as a possible source. This and Sale 2, lot 3 also have chi dragons as their main subject, another indication of an imperial source. Whether that source was the palace workshops in Beijing is less certain. According to the imperial archives, snuff bottles made of precious stones were mostly produced at the palace workshops or at workshops in Suzhou or Yangzhou (see Gugong bowuyuan 1995, p. 29). Another popular subject for this group is figures, sometimes the Star God of Longevity, Shou Lao. We suspect that the entire group, including the glass bottles, may represent part of the mid-Qing imperial output from about the 1760s through to the end of the Daoguang period. The latter end of this range is perhaps represented by no. 66 in Kleiner 1994, where a bottle of lovely aquamarine of this general formal range is decorated with the sort of scene of playing children found on Daoguang imperial porcelain snuff bottles. Several of them have inscriptions in relief. For two examples, see Stevens 1976, nos. 641 and 642, both decorated with deities. Another is in the Gerry Mack Collection (Hall 1990, p. 33, Plate L) and a rare double version in what was catalogued as green beryl, where one elongated oval is shorter than the other, was sold by Sotheby's, London, 28 October 1969, lot 182. Related glass examples are in Stevens 1976, no. 1002, and from the Alice McReynolds Collection, Sotheby's, New York, 16 April 1985, lot 76 (also of the same elongated oval form of many in this group).

    As with the entire group, the workmanship here is good and the hollowing extremely well achieved, with exterior and interior profiles well matched and finished while leaving sufficient depth of material to provide good colour.

    It is tempting to think that this stopper may have been an original. The two-toned tourmaline is typical of the material discussed under no. 407, with its green-and-pink colouring in a single specimen, apparently popular at court during the mid-Qing period. It came from the Van Nuys Collection complete with this stopper, although we shall never know whether it left the court wearing it.

    藍晶雕螭龍抱瓶鼻煙壺

    海藍寶石; 掏膛完整,平唇,凹底,弄平的圈足,雕螭紋
    擬為御製品,1760–1860
    高﹕ 5.2 厘米
    口經/唇經: 0.47/1.5 厘米
    蓋: 碧璽;銀座,一部分鎏金

    狀態敘述:滿布天然的虹彩瑕疵,雕螭紋的一面呈微凹,是原來製作過程中削減缺口的痕跡;螭口邊有微乎其微的缺口

    來源﹕
    Butterfield and Butterfield, San Francisco, 1984年11月8日,拍賣品號 1733
    Thomas C. Van Nuys
    Robert Kleiner (1994)

    文獻﹕
    Kleiner 1994, 編號62
    Treasury 3, 編號410

    說明﹕
    本珍藏收藏著許多早期綠柱石的珍品,多半是海藍寶,會讓人低估這種煙壺的稀有性。這種早期的鼻煙壺,石材優秀、掏膛精工、狹身或到極點,如 第二場拍賣會,拍賣品號 3. 考慮它們的題材和一種形式出現在不同質料的煙壺這個現象,可推測這一批煙壺是御製品,但不一定是出於北京的宮廷作坊。據清檔案,寶石作的鼻煙壺多數是在蘇州和揚州作的 (見 故宮博物院 1995, 頁 29)

    推定這件蓋是原件的誘感很強。這種二色碧璽似乎是清朝中葉的宮廷很喜愛的,可參閱Treasury 2, 編號407。這件煙壺離開 Van Nuys 珍藏的時候已經配戴這件蓋,可是沒法知道它原來是不是戴著它退朝的。


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