An inscribed ruby-red glass overlay 'chicken' snuff bottle
Yangzhou, dated 1881 6.43cm high.
Treasury 5, no. 1037
A ruby-red glass overlay 'cockerel' snuff bottle
Transparent ruby-red and translucent white glass; with a flat lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding flattened footrim; carved as a single overlay with a continuous design of a cockerel and three chicks, with cockscomb growing near a perforated rock in the foreground, with orchids growing from another, similar rock, with four butterflies and a dragonfly flying above and a paradise flycatcher turning in mid-air to look down upon the cockerel, inscribed in relief seal script 'Made in the year xinsi' Yangzhou, 1881 Height: 6.43 cm Mouth/lip: 0.58/1.28 cm Stopper: amber; plastic collar
Condition: Elongated bubble in upper neck part of original process; small bruise on lip; workshop condition
Provenance: Janos Szekeres Sotheby's, New York, 27 October 1986, lot 65
Exhibited: Hong Kong Museum of Art, March-June 1994 National Museum, Singapore, November 1994-February 1995
The workshop that produced these glass-overlay bottles often replaces mask-and-ring handles with other elements of the design. Here, a dragonfly is stand-in for one mask handle, while the splendid paradise flycatcher performs exuberantly in the role of the other. The quality of the composition and execution here are close to the best of the school, and with its signature perforated rocks appearing on both main sides, removing any lingering doubts that it is the work of whatever workshop it was that produced bottles for Li Yunting and his brother Weizhen. We find an interesting feature of the footrim, suggesting that on his finer works this master was determined to overcome the problem inherent in matching footrim to overlay colour, which had its origins in declining standards of production from the late Qianlong era onwards. Where the red has evidently run into the foot at one end of the interior footrim, he has attenuated the foot at one end, leaving an uneven depth to the convex foot, but succeeding in matching the colour to it. It is an ingenious trick that works under all but the closest inspection, and would go unnoticed in normal use. The possibility of this being a repair is remote, since it would assume a chip at the point where the inner footrim meets the base of the bottle, which would be impossible without also causing damage to the footrim.