Imperial, probably palace workshops, Beijing, incised Yi Jin zhai mark, 17801823 Sold with accompanying watercolour by Peter Suart 5.4cm high.
Treasury 2, no. 358
A chalcedony snuff bottle
Chalcedony; very well hollowed, with a rounded, flat-topped lip and recessed flat circular foot surrounded by a narrow flat footrim, its inner edge sloping towards the foot; the foot incised in regular script Yi Jin zhai (Studio where the Jin [dynasty calligraphic heritage] is Preserved) Imperial, probably palace workshops, Beijing, 17801823 Height: 5.4 cm Mouth/lip: 0.6/1.2 cm Stopper: tourmaline; turquoise collar
Condition: Workshop condition
Illustration: Watercolour by Peter Suart
Provenance: Hugh Moss Paula J. Hallett Sotheby's, New York, 2 December 1985, lot 79
Published: Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty, p. 61, no. 44 JICSBS, Summer 1985, p. ii JICSBS, Winter 1985, p. 15, fig. 26 Kleiner 1987, no. 142 Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 214 Kleiner 1995, no. 253 Treasury 2, no. 358
Exhibited: Hong Kong Museum of Art, OctoberDecember 1978 Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987 Creditanstalt, Vienna, MayJune 1993 Hong Kong Museum of Art, March-June 1994 National Museum, Singapore, November 1994February 1995 British Museum, London, JuneOctober 1995 Israel Museum, Jerusalem, JulyNovember 1997
This elegant bottle is a rare example of this form that can be attributable to an Imperial workshop, and probably to the palace workshops. It is superbly formed and painstakingly hollowed, with the lipped upper neck rim so typical of palace hardstone carving and a neatly recessed flat, circular foot surrounded by a narrow footrim. Another version, of similar form but in white nephrite, probably from the same workshop, was exhibited at the Hong Kong Museum of Art in 1978 (Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty, no. 155).
The hallmark on the foot of this bottle, Yi Jin Zhai, is that of Yongxing, (17521823), the eleventh son of the Qianlong emperor. In 1789, Yongxing became the first Prince Cheng. (See Hummel, Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, pp. 962 963 for a biography in English.) The name of his studio derives from the fact that with the Jin dynasty (265 420) was considered the fountainhead of cursive- and regular-script calligraphy. As a collector and a calligrapher, Yongxing preserved that heritage in his studio.
This bottle confirms that the technical and artistic standards of the late Qianlong era continued well into the nineteenth century in many art forms.
A realgar-glass bottle bearing the Yi Jin zhai hall mark was sold in Sale 1, lot 72. Another, in crystal, is illustrated in Hall 1993, no. 28.