An inside-painted crystal 'portrait of Zhang Cengju' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, 1920–1932 (the bottle: 1760–1932)
Lot 161
An inside-painted crystal 'portrait of Zhang Cengju' snuff bottle Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, 1920–1932 (the bottle: 1760–1932)
Sold for HK$ 1,040,000 (US$ 134,191) inc. premium
Lot Details
An inside-painted crystal 'portrait of Zhang Cengju' snuff bottle
Ma Shaoxuan, Ox Street district, Beijing, 1920–1932 (the bottle: 1760–1932)
6.2cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 4, no. 608

    水晶內畫張曾榘肖像鼻煙壺
    壺﹕1760~1932
    內畫:馬少宣,北京牛街,1920~1932

    An inside-painted portrait snuff bottle

    Flawless crystal, ink, and watercolours; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim; painted on one main side with a portrait of Colonel Zhang Cengju, standing in full military dress, his hand on the hilt of his sword, the other main side inscribed in regular script with a rhyming couplet preceded by 'A keepsake for Master Tiehou' and followed by the signature Ma Shaoxuan and one seal of the artist, Shaoxuan, in negative seal script
    Bottle: 1760–1932
    Painting: Ma Shaoxuan, Studio for Listening to the Qin, Ox Street district, Beijing, 1920–1932
    Height: 6.2 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.50/1.72 cm
    Stopper: coral; pearl finial; vinyl collar

    Condition: Bottle: the mouth is possibly slightly polished down. There are chips of approximately 0.3cm long to the inner lip and a tiny chip of less than 0.1cm to the outer lip. Painting: studio condition

    Provenance:
    Sotheby's, New York, 1 July 1985, lot 177
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (1985)

    Published:
    Kleiner 1987, no. 298
    Treasury 4, no. 608

    Exhibited:
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
    Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993
    Christie's, London, 1999

    Emily Byrne Curtis identified the sitter here as Zhang Lanzhun, providing as evidence a photograph of the colonel in full military dress (Emily Byrne Curtis, 'Chinese Snuff Bottle Portraits. A Supplement,' JICSBS, Autumn 1985, p. 133, fig. 8). She made an error in her original Wade-Giles transcription (Chang Lan-chun instead of Chang Lan-chün), which naturally led to an error in the pinyin, in which the name should be written Zhang Lanjun. Treasury 4 introduced a further error by writing the name Lanzhuan. The characters for the name under the picture in Curtis's article are correct, but they are the characters for his given name, Cengju. Lanjun is the subject's courtesy name, but it is likely that colonel Chang went by his courtesy name, as sometimes was the practice in China. Thus, a document in a compilation of British Foreign Office papers for the years 1919 – 1920 says that 'the chief of police [in Harbin], Chang Lan Chun, is typical of his kind, which delights in the thought and exercise of authority over the white man....' Just to keep us on our toes, some Chinese sources write the courtesy name with different characters, with a slight difference in pronunciation: Nanjun.

    Zhang Cengju, zi Lanjun, held several high administrative posts in the northeastern region of China, including the xian in which Harbin is located (1915 – 1919), and he appears to have been well regarded. We have found no other images of him, so the model Ma Shaoxuan followed still eludes us. In 1915, when he was magistrate of Yilan county, he was awarded a sixth-rank medal for his services in disaster relief, attracting settlers, and so forth. In July 1919, when he was magistrate of Binjiang county, he was given the same medal, and it was 'later' upgraded to a fifth-rank medal. On the chest of the man portrayed on this bottle, the medal whose ribbon that has the darker stripe in the middle of the ribbon and white stripes down both edges is the medal Zhang was awarded 'later'. Future research may identify the five-petal medal next to it, perhaps enabling us to confirm that this is Zhang Cengju. This particular system of medals was abolished in 1927, but that does not mean the sitter could not have worn his medals after that date, so we shall retain our broad dating range.

    The inscription may be translated:

    Mind of ice-like purity: pure and cool is the realm within his breast;
    On the surface and within him, bright all the way through: the glory of the nation.

    Tiehou, for whom the bottle was made, remains unidentified.

    The writing here is typical of Ma's portraits and became a standard for his finest works from the early 1900s onwards. It is characterized by extreme elegance. The characters are written with thin, supremely confident strokes, and the balance and energy are impeccable throughout the inscription. This level of calligraphy graces the portrait bottles that have inscriptions but was also carried over into the finest of his other works on a regular basis.

    Ma uses white paint extensively and very obviously in this portrait, although in conjunction with his standard, more subtle washes for the jacket.


    水晶內畫張曾榘肖像鼻煙壺

    無瑕 水晶、墨、水彩;平唇, 平斂底突出圈足,圈足底為一圓棱;一面內畫張曾榘,反面內書一首對聯,其前加"鐵侯先生惠存",以 "馬少宣" 及白文 "少宣" 篆印結尾
    壺﹕1760–1932
    馬少宣,北京牛街,1920–1932
    高﹕ 6.2 厘米
    口徑/唇徑: 0.50/1.72 厘米
    蓋﹕ 珊瑚;珍珠頂飾;乙烯基座

    狀態敘述: 壺:口沿略有不平,擬經磨平。口內沿呈缺口,有0.3厘米長,口外沿則有小於0.1厘米長的缺口。內畫:出齋狀況

    來源:
    紐約蘇富比, 1 July 1985, 拍賣品號 177
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (1985)

    文獻﹕
    Kleiner 1987, 編號 298
    Treasury 4, 編號 608

    展覽﹕
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd.,倫敦,1987年10月
    Creditanstalt, 維也納, 1993年5月~6月
    倫敦佳士得,1999年

    張曾榘,字蘭君。據《政府公報》民國四年"代理依蘭縣知事張曾榘賬災招墾邊治振興......給六等嘉禾章"。據《哈爾濱歷史編年》,1919年7月24日,"大總統令﹕授濱江縣知事張曾矩六等嘉禾章(後晉給五等嘉禾章)",而本壺肖像中的人物所穿戴襟綬中灰色兩外緣白色的勳章就是五等嘉禾章。可惜,我們還不知道張曾榘甚麼時候受到了五等嘉禾章。

    鐵侯者,未明。
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.