A nephrite  'archaistic motif' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, attributable to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1730-1780
Lot 67
A nephrite 'archaistic motif' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, attributable to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1730-1780
Sold for HK$ 237,500 (US$ 30,635) inc. premium

Lot Details
A nephrite  'archaistic motif' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, attributable to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1730-1780 A nephrite  'archaistic motif' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, attributable to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1730-1780 A nephrite  'archaistic motif' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, attributable to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1730-1780 A nephrite  'archaistic motif' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, attributable to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1730-1780 A nephrite  'archaistic motif' snuff bottle Probably Imperial, attributable to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1730-1780
A nephrite 'archaistic motif' snuff bottle
Probably Imperial, attributable to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1730-1780
5.71cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 1, no. 94

    青白玉仿古獸首銜環耳鼻煙壺
    擬御製品,傳宮廷作坊,北京,1730~1780

    A nephrite 'archaistic motif' snuff bottle

    Nephrite with artificial colour; very well hollowed, with a concave lip and recessed foot; carved with a continuous band of archaistic meandering lines, broken by mask-and-ring handles, the surface with overall staining
    Probably imperial, attributable to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1730–1780
    Height: 5.71 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.64/2.02 cm
    Stopper: coral; turquoise collar

    Condition: Some small scratches to the surface from wear; otherwise, workshop condition

    Provenance:
    Reif Collection
    Christie's, New York, 18 October 1993, lot 70

    Published:
    Kleiner 1995, no. 50
    Treasury 1, no. 94

    Exhibited:
    British Museum, June–October 1995
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1997

    The style of carving, choice of motifs, form, and quality of this bottle reflect Qianlong imperial taste, although to what extent these features may have been derived from earlier imperial taste is uncertain. Kangxi- and Yongzheng-marked hardstone carvings are extremely rare. There is a danger, therefore, of lumping everything that is known to represent Qing imperial taste into the Qianlong reign. By doing this we will, doubtless, be correct most of the time, but there will be exceptions when what appears to be a Qianlong imperial hardstone carving without a mark may date from the Yongzheng period, or possibly even the Kangxi period. Archaism may have been beloved of the Qianlong emperor, but it was also standard to the repertoire of other Qing rulers, particularly the Kangxi emperor, who set the standard with his scholarship and intensely Confucian approach to ruling. Ancient forms, decorative motifs and styles were adopted as standards for Qing production from the Kangxi period onwards, and with a particular passion by the Qianlong emperor (see Yang Boda 1992).

    Several features distinguish this example as of imperial taste, probably coming from the palace workshops at Beijing during the Qianlong period. Apart from the archaistic motifs, so popular on imperial production of the period, the device of a single archaistic band set horizontally around the bottle just above the centre line, often broken by small, finely carved mask handles with small, circular rings, is found on a number of bottles associated with the Qianlong imperial facilities and probably mostly made at the palace workshops. They may be found, for instance, in Geng and Zhao 1992, no. 267 (in the yellow nephrite beloved of the Qianlong emperor) and no. 274; and Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 34 (for a Qianlong-marked grey-and-white nephrite bottle) and no. 36 (for one in yellow nephrite), both with the horizontal band of archaic decoration but no mask-and-ring handles; and in the Claar Collection (Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 2 December 1969, lot 139, a white nephrite example rather similar to this one in form and decoration).

    The mask-and-ring handles themselves are of the style preferred by the court during the early phase of snuff bottle production, being small, very well carved with distinctive individuality, and having small, circular rings. This bottle also has a lip at the upper neck, which is a feature of a number of hardstone bottles attributable to imperial workshops (see discussion under Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 34). It is understated here, and not as broad as usual, but nonetheless apparent. The crisp, confidently carved footrim also appears on bottles from the palace workshops from the early phase of snuff bottle manufacture. Together, these features provide convincing evidence of an imperial product.

    Here, the surface of an otherwise dull and slightly flawed piece of nephrite has been stained with a pleasing pattern of brown flecking, which makes it look like ancient pebble material and greatly enhances its surface appeal. The staining of nephrite was popular as a means of enhancing pebble material long before the Qing dynasty and, after mining became a popular alternative source for nephrite from the late-Ming dynasty onwards, even for making flawless mined material appear to have come from a pebble or boulder source.

    Nowhere on a snuff bottle from the Qing imperial workshops is an archaic motif better executed than here. Not only is the design superbly laid out with constant variation of its elements and a perfect formal balance between them, but the execution itself is faultless, with the doubled lines standing with great fluency in low relief against an extraordinarily well-finished ground plane.

    青白玉仿古獸首銜環耳鼻煙壺

    閃玉,有所沁染; 掏膛徹底 , 凹唇,斂底,雕一道仿古紋飾,有獸首啣環耳
    擬為御製品,推定為宮廷作坊作的,北京,1730–1780
    高﹕ 5.71 厘米
    口經/唇經: 0.64/2.02 厘米
    蓋: 珊瑚; 綠松石座

    狀態敘述:經過歲月的觸摸以後,表面呈細小刮傷此外,出坊狀態

    來源﹕
    Reif 珍藏
    紐約佳士得,1993年10月18日, 拍賣品號70

    文獻﹕
    Kleiner 1995, 編號50
    Treasury 1, 編號94

    展覽﹕
    大英博物館,1995年6月~10月
    Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷,1997年

    說明﹕
    本壺的雕風、題材、形式、品質等都反應乾隆期的宮廷風尚。帶康熙、雍正款的玉石品不多,所以辨別這三朝的製品並不容易,把所有宮廷風格的煙壺歸并在一起,說是乾隆時期的作品,或許會不覺察到雍正甚至於康熙時期的雕品。

    即便如此,本煙壺呈現北京乾隆時期作坊製品的一些特色。仿古裝飾圖案之外,腹部中的仿古紋飾一週,此紋飾又以精巧的小獸首啣圓環耳中斷, 都見於其他跟乾隆御用作坊有關係的煙壺。譬如,耿寶昌,趙炳華 1992, 編號267 和編號274; 以及 Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, 編號34 和編號36 (缺獸首啣環耳。Claar 珍藏 (紐約蘇富比.帕克.波納,1969年12月2日, 拍賣品號 139)。

    小巧的獸首啣環耳是早期宮廷作坊常見的,頸上部有唇也是一些推測為御用作坊作的煙壺的特殊色;參見 Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, 編號34。. 乾淨利落的圈足也是早期宮廷玉作製品的一種細節。

    本壺玉料的沁染給以順眼的斑點花樣,也使之呈現古老卵石料的樣子。而本壺的仿古圖案也是乾隆玉作出的煙壺上的圖案設計最好、製作最精彩的。

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