A jadeite 'squirrel and melon' snuff bottle 1770-1870
Lot 7
A jadeite 'squirrel and melon' snuff bottle 1770-1870
Sold for HK$ 162,500 (US$ 20,965) inc. premium

Lot Details
A jadeite 'squirrel and melon' snuff bottle 1770-1870 A jadeite 'squirrel and melon' snuff bottle 1770-1870 A jadeite 'squirrel and melon' snuff bottle 1770-1870 A jadeite 'squirrel and melon' snuff bottle 1770-1870 A jadeite 'squirrel and melon' snuff bottle 1770-1870
A jadeite 'squirrel and melon' snuff bottle
1770-1870
Sold with accompanying watercolour by Peter Suart
4.96cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 1, no. 187

    翡翠雕松鼠瓜形鼻煙壺

    A jadeite 'squirrel and melon' snuff bottle

    Jadeite; well hollowed and carved in the form of a flattened melon, the surface surrounded by a severed section of vine from which leaves, tendrils, and a flower grow and on which two squirrels climb
    1770–1870
    Height: 4.96 cm
    Mouth: 0.55 cm
    Stopper: coral in the shape of a twig
    Illustration: watercolour by Peter Suart

    Condition: small nibble to the ear of the one squirrel

    Provenance:
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd.
    Cyril Green
    Christie's, New York, 22 September 1987, lot 217
    J. J. Lally & Co. (1987)
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (Hong Kong, 1987)

    Published:
    Hall 1990, p. 22, Plate O.
    Arts of Asia, September–October 1990, p. 95
    Treasury 1, no. 187

    This material is so distinctive that all of the known pieces in it would appear to have come from one boulder that may have been utilized in a single workshop. Although it could have been carved during the late Qianlong period, the most likely date is from the early nineteenth century. The material is lovely, evenly and very pleasantly coloured, and remarkably free from disfiguring flaws, even though the colour would not have excited much interest among jewellers.

    There has been some question as to whether the animals portrayed are rats or mice, or squirrels. Although the tails are thinner than those normally depicted on squirrels, they are definitely intended to convey an impression of bushiness, being incised with a series of fur-like lines extending outwards from the centre of a tail that is thicker than what would be found on a rat or a mouse. The symbolism of the design showing squirrels on a melon would be the same as for squirrels on a grape vine. The squirrel is very prolific and the melon produces numerous seeds, like grapes, both suggesting numerous progeny. This meaning is reinforced by the multiple tendrils of the vine which, in turn, suggest continuity of the family line.

    Jadeite was imported into China in significant quantities only from the mid-Qianlong period onwards. In Treasury 1, we observed that James Watt noted what he considered a clear reference to jadeite even prior to the Qing dynasty. In the famous late Ming connoisseur Wen Zhenheng's Zhangwu zhi [A record of superfluous things], juan 7, this comment appears: 'The fashionable stone which is clear like crystal and green (kingfisher) in colour, is what was known in the past as pi. It is not jade' (Watt 1980, p. 30). Wen Zhenheng lived from 1584 to 1645, and the book is variously considered to have been finished in 1620 or 1627. Unfortunately, the passage quoted is not an unambiguous reference to jadeite, even though it refers to cuise, 'kingfisher-green colour', and the common word for jadeite is feicui, 'kingfisher'; or perhaps Watt was confused by pi (pinyin: bi), which is often used with no mineralogical specificity; he may have thought it referred to jadeite. Wen explicitly states that the stone is clear (tongming) like crystal, which means that the material he had in mind was either a very high grade of jadeite or, more likely, green chalcedony. (See the National Palace Museum's Wenwu guanghua 2 1989, p. 95, for a thorough consideration of the question.)

    Nevertheless, Burmese jadeite was probably known, if not particularly valued, before the Qianlong period. And if it was known, it may have been used occasionally for snuff bottles, just as many other materials of humble status were carved into snuff bottles. We may expect, therefore, to find the occasional exception to the rule that jadeite bottles are unlikely to predate the late Qianlong period. One such bottle has recently come to light. Lot 72 in Christie's New York, 18 October 1993, is very obviously first-phase Suzhou carving and probably dates from the first half of the eighteenth century—a point missed by everyone at the time (it was catalogued as nineteenth century without any reference to Suzhou, and its price certainly did not reflect its extraordinary importance as a jade snuff bottle or its contribution to the question of the importation of jadeite into China). The bottle went to the Grimberg Collection in Singapore and was in the recent sale of that collection by Sotheby's, New York, 14 September 2010, lot 81.

    翡翠松鼠瓜形鼻煙壺

    翡翠;掏膛完整,雕扁瓜形,有瓜葉與藤蔓,二松鼠爬伏於藤葉之間1770–1870
    高﹕ 4.96 厘米
    口經: 0.55 厘米
    蓋﹕珊瑚, 折枝形
    帶有彼德小話 (Peter Suart) 水彩畫

    狀態敘述:一隻松鼠的一朵耳朵呈小咬痕

    來源﹕
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd.
    Cyril Green
    紐約佳士得,1987年9月22日, 拍賣品號 217
    J. J. Lally & Co. (1987)
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (香港, 1987)

    文獻﹕
    Hall 1990, 頁 22, Plate O.
    Arts of Asia, September–October 1990, 頁 95
    Treasury 1, 編號187

    說明﹕
    本壺的石料與眾不同,它與其他已知的同類石料的器物很可能都是用同一塊翡翠璞雕琢的。它可能是乾隆晚期琢的,但我們推測它更可能是十九世紀初才雕成。

    眾所周知,翡翠是乾隆中葉以後才流行的。詹姆斯.瓦特曾認為,清代以前已經有提到翡翠的文獻。文震享(1585~1645)《長物志》卷7曰"今所尚翠色通明如水晶者,古人號為碧,非玉也" (Watt 1980, 頁 30)。《長物志》1620年或1627年成書。可是,注意到 "通明如水晶"這形容,可知文震享所指的雖然可能是極高品質的翡翠,大概是綠玉髓。詳細參閱《文物光華2,貢95》。無論如何,我們應該指出,跟很多別的不被珍視的材料作成鼻煙壺一樣,翡翠大量輸入之前,很可能會有製作翡翠煙壺的。 譬如,紐約佳士得,1993年10月18日,拍賣品號72 顯然就是十八世紀前半葉的蘇州初期製品。那件鼻煙壺歸屬新加坡Grimberg 珍藏,該珍藏最近拍賣時又出現了﹕紐約蘇富比, 2010年9月14日,拍賣品號81。
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
Similar Items