Metallic-greenish-grey, green, variegated brown, gold, and black lacquer, and textile; with slightly concave lip and no functional foot; moulded in the form of a finger citron (Buddha's-hand fruit) with a severed leafy branch around the upper area; the leaves and branch painted green and detailed in gold, the fruit with metallic greenish- grey lacquer on a rubbed, variegated brown ground that also covers the lip; the interior black Possibly Imperial, 17501800 Height: 6.55 cm (measured at right angles to the plane of the lip) Mouth/lip: 0.59/1.11 cm Stopper: coral
Condition: Slight separation (line of bubbles in the lacquer) between one leaf and the fruit, part of natural original process and not obtrusive; slight surface wear and some small cracks from use; otherwise, workshop condition
Exhibited: British Museum, London, JuneOctober 1995 Israel Museum, Jerusalem, JulyNovember 1997
Sale 1, lot 105, Sale 2, lot 116, and this example may well be attributable to palace workshops. A range of lacquer work was made at the palace workshops, and it is quite possible that workers were seconded from Fuzhou, bringing with them their secrets of production. When published by two experts involved with the Palace Museum, three similar lacquer bottles from the Imperial collection were described as being produced in the palace workshops (Zhu and Xia 1988, plate 52, text p. 107). They illustrated the three as examples of lacquered types made at the palace, but did not make it clear whether they also had evidence that those three particular bottles were made there. If the Imperial bottles turn out to be constructed differently or on a wood base, then we would be looking at two different groups. If they turn out to be constructed similarly to the three in this collection, then we are probably dealing with a single group either from Fuzhou or made at the palace in Fuzhou style. They are listed in the catalogue as being of mid-Qing date, but stylistically they would fit very comfortably into the second half of the Qianlong reign. None of the group bears a reign mark, not even the ones in the Imperial collectionanother feature that links them.
Although Sale 1, lot 105, and Sale 2, lot 116, are unique designs, as are four of those in the Imperial collection, this one is not. A bottle that appears to have been taken from the same mould as this one is in the Drummond Collection, in the American Museum of Natural History, although the colours are different. This also confirms the construction in moulds for the group.