A 'famille-rose' enamel on porcelain 'moths' snuff bottle
Jingdezhen, 17901840 4.3cm high.
Treasury 6, no. 1234
A 'famille-rose' porcelain 'moths' snuff bottle
Famille rose enamels on glaze on porcelain; moulded and painted in the form of two moths, their wings spread and flattened against each other; the formalization of the wings including a band of formalized lingzhi, the space between the upper edges of their wings painted as antennae; the lip iron-red; the interior unglazed Jingdezhen, 17901840 Height: 4.3 cm Mouth: 0.59 cm Stopper: jadeite, made from a necklace segment; jadeite finial
Condition: Barely perceptible nibbles to the fine black line on the butterfly wings and minor wear to gilding on relief areas; otherwise, kiln condition
Provenance: Private English collection Robert Kleiner (1992)
Published: JICSBS, Autumn 1992, p. 33 Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 186 Treasury 6, no. 1234
Exhibited: Hong Kong Museum of Art, MarchJune 1994 National Museum of Singapore, November 1994February 1995
One of the distinctive moulded porcelain models that seems drawn by the gravitational pull of the Jiaqing period, even if it was made a little later, is this twin-moth mould. It may look as if it was intended to be read as one moth seen from two sides of the bottle, but two factors prove otherwise. It has the same exotic design both sides, and it has eyes and the back of the head on both sides. The antennae can be seen as shared in an aesthetic compromise or as feathering back from joined leading edges.
We cannot be sure whether this well-known series of moth bottles was Imperial or not. The fact that it was made in considerable quantities may imply that it was, yet the enamels used are typical of the wares of kilns working for the popular market and not for the court. Either way, it may well have been first produced during the Jiaqing period. It is certainly not a late mould, as there is one in the Bragge Album (Treasury 6, p. 524, fig. 1, and for the album, Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 481, and JICSBS, Winter 2006).