A crystal double-gourd 'da ji' snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1730–1850
Lot 39
A crystal double-gourd 'da ji' snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1730–1850
Sold for HK$ 150,000 (US$ 19,354) inc. premium
Lot Details
A crystal double-gourd 'da ji' snuff bottle
Possibly Imperial, 1730–1850
6.6cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 2, no. 333

    水晶錦袱紋葫蘆形鼻煙壺
    擬御製品,1730~1850

    A crystal waisted gourd snuff bottle

    Crystal; carved in the form of a double gourd, extremely well hollowed into both bulbs with a flat lip and concave foot surrounded by a small, rounded footrim; carved in relief regular script on each side with the two characters Daji ('Extensive good fortune'), and in low relief with a simulated brocade wrapped diagonally around the body and tied in a bow, a series of raised bosses around the base
    Possibly Imperial, 1730–1850
    Height: 6.6 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.6/1.7 cm
    Stopper: carnelian; jadeite finial; stained ivory collar

    Condition: Flaw in crystal beneath one character, ji, on one main side gives appearance of a chip but is natural; natural flaw lines, one to the left of the bottom character and within the character on the front face; barely perceptible nibbles to inner lip; otherwise, workshop condition

    Provenance:
    Ralph Hults
    Elisabeth and Ladislas Kardos
    Sotheby's, New York, 1 July 1985, lot 88

    Published:
    Arts of Asia, November-December 1985, p. 135
    Kleiner 1987, no. 136
    Treasury 2, no. 333
    Gugong bowuyuan 2000, no. 110

    Exhibited:
    Sydney L. Moss Ld., London, October 1987
    Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993

    The double-gourd form was a popular standard at court for the snuff bottle, and indeed for a wide variety of other objects. It symbolised ample progeny, growing as it did in large numbers from a single vine. The brocade tied around a vessel was a symbol of longevity, and the meaning of the characters inscribed on each side is unambiguous. Thus, this bottle carries the wish for longevity, good fortune, and ample progeny, a suitably generalized theme for courtly gifts to and from the emperor or anyone else with access to the output of Imperial workshops. The unusual line of raised bosses (ruding) evoke the sound ding which can mean, among a variety of connotations, a male offspring. They are added to the double gourd-shaped bottle to enhance the implication of fertility embodied by this fruit.

    The quality of artistry and technique are unmatched here, with extraordinary sculptural grace perfectly achieved. The bottle tapers towards the neck, as do most double-gourd forms, but from the narrow-side view, it tapers the opposite way, creating a subtle and impressive variation. The relief inscriptions are faultlessly achieved, and the diagonal sash is a masterstroke, a counterpoint to the symmetrical formality of the shape and inscriptions. Each of the two characters chosen is symmetrical, as is their disposition, central to each bulb and repeated on each side. The hollowing is also as thin as can be imagined for such a difficult form and impeccably achieved. If this was not made at an Imperial workshop for the court or as tribute to the court representing the finest that could be made elsewhere, it must certainly represent a type that would have been.

    Ralph Hults was one of the more eccentric collectors of the mid-century; his appetite for fine snuff bottles and driving enthusiasm as a collector was matched by a sometimes alarming lack of restraint. He could have given Gerry Mack a run for his money as one of the more frightening collectors of the era. When visiting him to value his collection and falling short of Hults's own rather optimistic estimations of value, Hugh Moss was frequently and loudly warned to get his ideas out of the gutter or get out of his house. The pick of his collection was split between Edward O'Dell and the Caldwells after he died, and how this little gem escaped their combined good taste is a mystery.
    For related double gourds, see Sotheby's, New York, 17 March 1997, lot 149, bearing the same auspicious inscription but with chi dragons on the narrow sides, strengthening the Imperial connection; Christie's, New York, 20 March 1997, lot 244, similarly inscribed and with a floral surround that relates it to no. 335 in this collection, and Hall 1989, no. 40, an unusual example in brown crystal with the same auspicious characters but no other decoration. Another in the J & J Collection (Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 98) also has chi dragons in low, flat relief.

    水晶錦袱紋葫蘆形鼻煙壺

    水晶; 雕細腰葫蘆形,掏膛書上下兩部極其徹底 ,平唇,凹底 圓棱圈足;兩面陽刻"大吉"楷體二字,有淺浮雕包袱紋,近底有乳丁紋一道
    或為御製品,1730–1850
    高﹕ 6.6 厘米
    口徑/唇徑: 0.6/1.7 厘米
    蓋﹕ 紅白玉髓; 翡翠頂飾;染色象牙座

    狀態敘述: 一"吉"字下面的瑕疵看起來是缺口,實在是天然的,結袱一面亦呈天然的瑕疵,唇內緣有幾乎看不見的咬痕;此外,出坊狀態

    來源:
    Ralph Hults
    Elisabeth and Ladislas Kardos
    紐約蘇富比, 1985年7月1 日, 拍賣品號 88

    文獻﹕
    Arts of Asia, November-December 1985, p. 135
    Kleiner 1987, 編號 136
    Treasury 2, 編號 333
    Gugong bowuyuan 2000, 編號 110

    展覽﹕
    Sydney L. Moss Ld.,倫敦,1987年10月
    Creditanstalt, 維也納, 1993年5月~6月

    本壺的工藝是無與倫比的。造型特別巧妙﹕從正面看,是葫蘆下部寬,跟一般的葫蘆形鼻煙壺一樣,但是從側面看,是上部寬。這是難捉摸的變體,但富有情趣。壺壁也非常薄,令人驚歎。

    Ralph M. Hults 是二十世紀中葉比較古怪的藏家,他渴慕最佳的鼻煙壺的同時,又不能抑止沖動,跟Gerry Mack 一樣,是那時期最令人恐怖的藏家之一。莫士撝給他鑑價的時候,如果估價不如Hults氏所想像,他不管怎樣,總是把莫士撝哄走。Hults氏離開人世之後,他的收藏的精品都為Edward C. O'Dell 及 Caldwell夫婦所收,真不知道他們怎麼會把這件傑出作品遺漏了。

    相關的細腰葫蘆,見紐約蘇富比, 1997年3月17日,拍賣品號 149, 題字相同而側面雕螭龍;紐約佳士得,1997年3月20日,拍賣品號 244, 以及 Hall 1989, 編號 40。 淺浮雕螭龍的還有 Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, 編號 98。
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