A chalcedony 'enfeoffment' snuff bottle Official School, 1750–1880
Lot 68
A chalcedony 'enfeoffment' snuff bottle Official School, 1750–1880
Sold for HK$ 325,000 (US$ 41,934) inc. premium
Lot Details
A chalcedony 'enfeoffment' snuff bottle
Official School, 1750–1880
5.18cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 2, no. 283

    玉髓巧雕馬上封侯鼻煙壺
    頒賜品,1750~1880

    A chalcedony 'enfeoffment' snuff bottle

    Chalcedony; well hollowed, with a concave lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim with rounded edges; the natural markings in the stone edited to create a scene of a monkey, seated on the back of a horse, reaching towards a bee in flight, while another monkey stands on a nearby rocky outcrop holding the horse's halter
    Official School, 1750–1880
    Height: 5.18 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.75/2.36 and 2.29 cm (oval)
    Stopper: glass; pearl finial; vinyl collar

    Condition: Short fissure on the plain reverse of the bottle may be a flaw or a crack—about 7mm long and not obtrusive; minute chip to outer lip; vertical line in neck, just below outer rim; otherwise, workshop condition

    Provenance:
    Trojan Collection
    Robert Hall (1993)

    Published:
    Hall 1992, no. 41
    Kleiner 1995, no. 268
    JICSBS, Autumn 1997, p. 9
    Treasury 2, no. 283

    Exhibited:
    British Museum, London, June–October 1995
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

    See lot 36 in this sale for the monkey-and-bee motif. The horse adds the idea of immediacy (mashang, 'on a horse'; i.e., 'right away').

    This example qualifies as a silhouette in the sense that it is an extensively edited thin plane of darker material wrapped evenly round three of the four sides. The plane of colour here is radically curved, a rather rare exception to the rule. To take full advantage of the material, the artist was encouraged to make a much fatter silhouette bottle than usual. The only incising used to create the design here, as opposed to editing away unnecessary colour, provides the eyes of the two monkeys and the horse. It is achieved quite simply by providing two circles for each of the monkeys' eyes and a more carefully eye-shaped incision for the horse's single visible one, giving the monkeys the appearance of wearing spectacles, which is quite common for the type. Because of this, they look distinctly bemused, which adds a certain charm to the design. The clarity, stark contrast, and simple delineation of this silhouette design qualifies it as one of the more impressive in the medium, and the unusual curving plane of the natural markings in the stone, used to full imaginative genius by the artist, ranks it still higher. Another silhouette chalcedony with a monkey and horse in a landscape, where the eyes are done in an identical way, is illustrated in Friedman 1990, no. 48.

    The collar here is of vinyl. The vinyl collar was a Hong Kong invention of the 1960s, when local dealers imaginatively re-used old gramophone records as collars and then progressed to making collars directly from vinyl. At first they were used as a simple emphasis between bottle and stopper to stand for the usually more complex but by then often difficult to find old bronze, gilt-bronze, or silver collars, although they also stood for earlier glass and other collars that were simple discs. Gradually their use evolved to doubling up the collar to give greater emphasis, and finally to varying their diameter so that the shape of many earlier metal collars was also reflected, as here. Y. F. Yang, the doyen of Hong Kong's snuff-bottle dealers and one of the most creative and highly respected, was largely responsible for popularizing both of these developments. In more recent years, as snuff-bottle values have increased, it has become worthwhile to recreate, regardless of the expense, the silver and gilt metal collars of old bottles, and these are gradually replacing the vinyl alternatives, for the obvious reason that they are more impressive and closer to the original concept. Here, three vinyl discs have been used to match an original form in metal, and they work successfully as a foil for the dark natural markings in the stone, but as a rule, the more recent metal equivalents are more successful visually. These modern equivalents were only just beginning to be made when the Bloch Collection was re-stoppered for photography in 1993 and not available in large enough numbers to cope with a collection of this size. Stoppers, when not original, can be changed as often as collectors wish, and it is part of the joy of collecting to do so. In future many bottles will acquire different stoppers in an ongoing refinement based upon availability and personal taste. In decades to come, when bottles have reached inevitably still higher values, the cost of having stoppers specifically made by jewellers will not be prohibitive and any bottle can, in theory, be given a perfect stopper commensurate with ancient style. A stopper, if not an original, is like the frame on a painting. It is important, but seldom fixed for eternity as an integral part of the work of art.


    拍賣品號 68
    Treasury 2, 編號 283 ('The Trojan Horse [and Monkeys]')
    HK$80,000 – 100,000

    玉髓巧雕馬上封侯鼻煙壺

    玉髓; 掏膛徹底 , 凹唇, 斂凸底,突出圈足,圓棱圈足底全面接觸地面 ,俏作猴子、馬、蜂
    頒賜品, 1750–1880
    高﹕ 5.18 厘米
    口徑/唇徑: 0.75/2.36 及 2.29 厘米 (橢圓形)
    蓋﹕ 玻璃;珍珠頂飾,乙烯基座

    狀態敘述: 光素的一面呈短裂縫,只有7毫米長,不引人注目,唇外緣有微乎其微的缺口,頸部呈垂直的線路;此外,出坊狀態

    來源:
    特落伊珍藏
    羅伯特.霍爾 (1993)

    文獻﹕
    Hall 1992, 編號 41
    Kleiner 1995, 編號 268
    《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》, 1997年秋期,頁 9
    Treasury 2, 編號 283

    展覽﹕
    大英博物館, 1995年6月~10月
    Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷, July–November 1997

    這塊瑪瑙的一層暗色材料彎曲,因此,壺身跟一般的俏色巧作鼻煙壺相比,豐滿得多。
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