Agate; very well hollowed, with a concave lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim; carved with a cameo design of a parrot in a blossoming tree, one narrow side with a low relief cameo design of two butterflies and a swirl of formalized clouds Attributable to the Stevens Deer Master, Official School, 17301850 Height: 5.25 cm Mouth/lip: 0.61/2.22 cm Stopper: amethyst; vinyl collar
Condition: Two chips, one to the foot of the parrot and one smaller to the tail; a crack through the tip of the prunus running from the base of the neck is a possible natural flaw; otherwise, workshop condition
Provenance: Choulkas Collection Trojan Collection Robert Hall (1993)
Published: Hall 1992, no. 45 Kleiner 1995, no. 276 JICSBS, Autumn 1997, p. 13 Treasury 2, no. 326
Exhibited: British Museum, London, JuneOctober 1995 Israel Museum, Jerusalem, JulyNovember 1997
There are as many reasons for attributing this bottle tentatively to Beijing as there are to Suzhou, for instance. This workshop seems to have been active during the mid-Qing period, when so many Official School bottles were made. For a lengthy exploration of the stylistic affiliations of this bottle, see the discussion under Treasury 2, no. 326.
Although the blossoming tree here resembles a prunus, we believe that a peach tree may have been intended. The peach, like the prunus, can blossom before the leaves appear, and in a rather stylised rendition the two might be mistaken for each other. In most cases, parrots are represented together with peaches as dual longevity symbols, the parrot, which can live for up to a century, also being a symbol of long life.