An inside-painted glass 'insects and rocks' snuff bottle
Zhou Leyuan, The Studio of Lotus-root Fragrance, Xuannan, Beijing, dated 1887 5.95cm high.
Treasury 4, no. 475
An inside-painted 'insects and rocks' snuff bottle
Glass, ink, and watercolours; with a slightly concave lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim; painted on one main side with a grasshopper and a bee beside a jagged rock growing with foliage and flowers, and on the other main side with auspicious objects (a natural rock sculpture, a vase with ring handles containing flowering prunus branches, a jardinière with calamus, and a tripod water vessel with a spoon in it), inscribed in draft script '[Executed] in the autumn of the year dinghai [by] Zhou Leyuan,' with one illegible seal of the artist Zhou Leyuan, The Studio of Lotus-root Fragrance, Xuannan, Beijing, autumn, 1887 Height: 5.95 cm Mouth/lip: 0.55/1.58 cm Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar
Condition: Bottle: Barely imperceptible chip on inner lip; tiny chip on foot rim, partially smoothed out; minor abrasions from use; otherwise, workshop condition. Painting: studio condition
Provenance: Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 6 April 1972, lot 260 Marty Klinger Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (1985)
Published: Treasury 4, no. 475
Exhibited: Christie's, London, 1999
The years 1887 through 1890 represent Zhou's own Blue Period. This does not mean that he entirely abandoned the use of green during this period, but it is characterized by the extensive use of blue. Thereafter, there was a more even balance between his use of green and blue for foliage, including the ground-cover on distant hills and mountains. On the side with auspicious objects, even the vase is a pale blue colour, while the calamus grass, green in real life, is emphatically blue. On the other main side, the grasshopper and foliage are in a similar colour, despite the fact that a grasshopper is not blue in real life. Zhou returned, although not exclusively, to green foliage after 1890, but to the end of his career he interspersed the more standard green landscapes with those in a blue palette, often mixing the two.