A jasper snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, possibly palace workshops, 1760–1840
Lot 163
A jasper snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, possibly palace workshops, 1760–1840
Sold for HK$ 112,500 (US$ 14,507) inc. premium
Lot Details
A jasper snuff bottle
Possibly Imperial, possibly palace workshops, 1760–1840
6.52cm high.


  • Treasury 2, no. 224


    A jasper snuff bottle

    Jasper; very well hollowed, with a concave lip and recessed, slightly convex foot
    Possibly Imperial, possibly palace workshops, 1760–1840
    Height: 6.52 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.67/1.98 cm
    Stopper: tourmaline; silver collar

    Condition: Miniscule nibble to outer lip; otherwise, workshop condition

    Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (1994)

    Treasury 2, no. 224

    What characterizes this particular pear-shaped form is the extreme compression and the sharpness of the curve where the base runs into the foot. Another feature of this particular form, is the recessed foot that often accompanies it, cut directly into the base of the form without a specific footrim other than the natural area where the curve of the base meets the recession of the foot.

    The form exists in a variety of materials, including nephrite, other types of quartz, and glass that can be attributable with some confidence to the Qianlong era and the palace workshops, allowing us the luxury of being able to date with some confidence a group of plain stone bottles. A dark sapphire-blue glass example with an entirely credible Qianlong mark is illustrated in Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty, no. 61. Another is known in black glass (Friedman 1990, no. 2), and a transparent amber-yellow glass with a wide mouth and credible Qianlong mark is also recorded (Hugh Moss records). There is also a superb crystal bottle of this form bearing the Yi Jin zhai mark of Yongxing, the first Prince Cheng (see this saile, lot 77) in the Rietberg Museum (Hall 1993, no. 28). It is likely to have been made in the mid-Qing period, between about 1770 and 1823, when the Prince died. Some of the glass and stone examples have unusually wide mouths, which we have suggested is probably a feature on hardstone bottles of the mid-Qing period, from the latter part of the Qianlong reign into the Daoguang period, since it is often found with the virtuoso hollowing associated with the same sort of period. Another of the form which strengthens the Imperial connection is a magnificent ink-play agate from the Monimar Collection (Lawrence 1996, no. 59) depicting the subject of a galloping Manchu bannerman.

    As a rule, where a distinctive form or style of carving is carried across a variety of different materials, it is a clue that we are dealing with a courtly group. The court maintained artists to design a wide range of wares that might then be sent to any of the palace workshops or to more distant facilities for production, resulting in certain popular forms or designs being produced across a wide range of arts. Reading these clues suggests that this is an Imperial work, probably from the latter part of the Qianlong era or the early nineteenth century. It may have been made at the palace workshops, since we can be sure, with the glass examples, that it was a palace form. An endorsement of this is found in the very next illustration in Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty, no. 62, where the same shape occurs in a glass bottle of Imperial yellow colour, carved with the known Imperial subject of a basket of flowers. It has a raised foot, but probably mainly because a recessed foot would be difficult to reconcile with the design, but is otherwise typical of the form.

    How the form is arrived at here is exemplary. It is unusually well hollowed for jasper, where the opacity of the material does not reveal painstaking hollowing to the eye and would not have demanded it as standard. It is also of perfect formal integrity, with impeccable detailing and finish, and is made from a material that is as exciting as any known jasper snuff bottle, although one has to say that variegated jasper is, as a rule, spectacular. There is plenty of scope for the game of interpreting the random markings as representational subject matter and, as so often, landscape is an excellent starting point.


    或為御製品, 或為宮廷作坊作的, 1760–1840
    高﹕ 6.52 厘米
    口徑/唇徑: 0.67/1.98 厘米
    蓋﹕碧璽, 銀座


    Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (1994)

    Treasury 2, 編號 224

    本壺可以由類似形式的玻璃煙壺直接與宮廷聯系。器作上小下寬扁墜形,這一群煙壺各別例子的高矮都沒關係,總是可以認出是同一類型。另一個特徵是,它們常具橢圓形斂底 ,周圍沒有形式分明的圈足。這個形式有閃玉的,有其他種石英的(如玉髓),有玻璃的,在一定的程度上,都可以有把握地歸功於乾隆時期和造辦處。Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty, 編號61, 是帶可信的乾隆款深藍寶石藍色的玻璃煙壺;還有黑玻璃的一件 (Friedman 1990, 編號2) 以及琥珀黃色透明玻璃,寬口、有可信的乾隆款的例子 (莫士撝未付梓知見錄)。里特貝格博物館藏有帶詒晉齋款 (參見第一場拍賣會, 拍賣品號 72; Treasury 5, 編號772的論述) 的一件美妙的水晶煙壺 (Hall 1993, 編號28),大概是清中葉,1770~1823年間作的,因為詒晉齋主人永瑆是1823年逝世的。有的玻璃和玉石例子具有特別寬闊的壺口,我們認為這大概是清朝中葉玉石煙壺的特徵,因為寬口常常是跟從乾隆末葉到道光時期常見的掏膛徹底情況有關的。Monimar所收藏的奪目潑墨瑪瑙煙壺 (Lawrence 1996, 編號59) 也助證這種形式和造辦處之間的關係,因為刻的是騎士報捷圖 ,可推定為1759年大小和卓木之亂粉碎不久之後琢製的。再還有同形式的Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty, 編號62,不但是柘黃色玻璃煙壺,而且雕刻的圖案是御製器慣例的花籃圖。除了那件的突出足以外,是這一群煙壺的典型形式,而突出足大概只不過是因為主題的關係,常規的橢圓形斂底不適合花籃的設計。

    因碧玉不透光,刻苦的掏膛是不必要的,而本煙壺掏膛卻非常完整。 材料也使人興奮,細節和拋光皆精致,形狀完善。碧玉本來是具有悅目斑駁的材料,而本壺的斑紋和顏色就格外悅目。是壺中有畫,畫中有詩矣。
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