An amygdaloidal basalt snuff bottle 1740–1880
Lot 24
An amygdaloidal basalt snuff bottle 1740–1880
Sold for HK$ 68,750 (US$ 8,870) inc. premium
Lot Details
An amygdaloidal basalt snuff bottle
1740–1880
4.65cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 3, no. 404

    玄武岩鼻煙壺

    A puddingstone snuff bottle

    Amygdaloidal basalt; well hollowed, with a flat lip and concave foot surrounded by a narrow, flattened footrim
    1740–1880
    Height: 4.65 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.50/1.92 cm
    Stopper: tourmaline; gilt-silver collar

    Condition: Usual surface wear through use, barely visible to the naked eye and not obtrusive; otherwise, workshop condition

    Provenance:
    H. G. Beasley (1928)
    Miss M. A. Beasley
    Sotheby's, London, 2 July 1984, lot 68
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (1993)

    Published:
    Treasury 3, no. 404

    Amygdaloidal basalt is almost invariably carved into plain bottles without surface decoration, for obvious reasons. It is a fascinating material in its own right, but the characteristic irregular strands of inclusions, of varying degrees of hardness, may have inhibited the lapidary from attempting any complicated relief carving.

    For the snuff-bottle material the ground is invariably black and is made up of what is known as volcanic glass, or obsidian, the result of molten lava released through the volcano and cooling rapidly, causing the various chemical elements in the molten material to solidify into an amorphous mass. Sometimes this material is riddled with gas-bubbles from the eruption, leaving the obsidian full of gaps which over time fill with other minerals, which may be quartz, epidote or calcite, giving the stone its distinctive appearance.

    This volcanic material constitutes a third type of puddingstone for the snuff-bottle collector, the other two being the hard, quartz variety of Treasury 2, no. 212, and the limestone conglomerate of Sale 2, lot 35. This third material has now become sufficiently well known as amygdaloidal basalt that the term volcanic puddingstone is disappearing. For three other examples of this material with a diverse range of colouring and markings, see White, 1990, Pl. 53, nos. 1–3 and for another, displayed with two snuff dishes of the same material, see Stevens 1976, p. 17, fig. 2. An unusual variant with predominantly pink inclusions is illustrated in Hall 1989, no. 29 and another is in the J & J Collection, Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 75.

    This is one of the most striking examples of the material, not because the
    stone is any different from the usual range, with the exception of some small inclusions of pink material, but because it is of such a lovely form. It is an ideal compressed sphere, beautifully achieved, with perfect formal integrity and fine detailing, including the hollowing, which is excellent. It is also unusually small for an amygdaloidal basalt.

    The Beasley Collection was largely formed by Marguerite Alwyn ('Mac') Beasley's father, Harry Geoffrey Beasley (1881 – 1939). He was one of the pioneering Orientalist collectors in England with an interest that embraced both Chinese and Japanese works of art. Mac inherited the collection and delighted in it for most of her life, sharing it joyously and gaining many loyal friends among other collectors. She added very little to the collection herself.

    玄武岩鼻煙壺

    杏仁狀玄武岩;掏膛徹底 ,平唇,凹底,細而琢平的圈足
    1740–1880
    高﹕ 4.65 厘米
    口徑/唇徑: 0.50/1.92 厘米
    蓋﹕ 碧璽; 鎏金銀座

    狀態敘述:經過歲月的觸摸以後,呈一般性的損耗;此外,出坊狀態

    來源:
    H. G. Beasley (1928)
    Miss M. A. Beasley
    倫敦蘇富比, 1984年7月2日,拍賣品號 68
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (1993)

    文獻﹕
    Treasury 3, 編號 404

    杏仁狀玄武岩作的鼻煙壺經常是光素的,不但是因為材料自身有趣味,而且是因為所含的雜物硬度高低不同,要試圖雕刻復雜的浮雕就會遇到很多問題。

    這種質料是鼻煙壺收藏界第三種布丁岩,其他兩種是硅質的燧石角礫逗,如 Treasury 2, 編號 212,以及灰質的石灰礫岩,如 第二場拍賣會, 拍賣品號 35. 如今,"火山布丁岩"這個名稱多半以杏仁狀玄武岩代替了。其他例子,參見White, 1990, 插圖 53, 編號 1–3 ;Stevens 1976, 頁 17, 圖 2; Hall 1989, 編號 29;及 Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, 編號 75。

    本壺的材料並沒有驚人的特色,但造型完美,掏膛精致。而且,就杏仁狀玄武岩作的鼻煙壺來說,規模是格外地小。

    彼斯萊珍藏多半是由H. G. 彼斯萊 (1881 – 1939) 集成的,更多,見本壺的英文說明。
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