An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Buddhist lion and dragon' snuff bottle Ding Erzhong, dated 1902
Lot 15
An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Buddhist lion and dragon' snuff bottle Ding Erzhong, dated 1902
Sold for HK$ 437,500 (US$ 56,419) inc. premium
Lot Details
An inside-painted rock-crystal 'Buddhist lion and dragon' snuff bottle
Ding Erzhong, dated 1902
Of rectangular section with gently curved shoulders surmounted by a cylindrical neck, the interior intricately painted with a dragon spewing forth a pearl whilst in flight amongst swirling clouds, the reverse with a Buddhist lion playing with a ball, one side with kaishu inscriptions, both sides with two signatures and painted seal marks of the artist.
6.1cm high.


  • Exhibited:
    Chinese Snuff Bottles, jointly presented by Hong Kong Chinese Snuff Bottle Collectors Study Group and the Urban Council, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 15 October to 26 November 1977

    Bob Stevens, Snuff Bottles, New York, 1976, p.243, pl.880 and 881
    Paul Braga, Hong Kong Chinese Snuff Bottle Collectors, Arts of Asia, November-December 1976, p.84
    Chinese Snuff Bottles, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1977, p.115, pl.280

    Ding Erzhong (1865-1935), a late Qing official and classical literati artist, specialised in landscape and 'flowers and bird' painting, and was also proficient in the arts of seal carving and fan-mounted carving. His elegant and sophisticated inside-painted style was based on subject matter from classical painting. Ding's work originally flourished in Beijing, but he moved to Nanjing after the invasion of the Eight-Nation Alliance in 1900. From that point, his production of inside-painted snuff bottles dwindled. For more information and research on the art life of Ding, see Humphrey K. E. Hui, Ding Erzhong: the Artist and his Talents', Inkplay in Microcosm: Inside-painted Chinese Snuff Bottles, the Humphrey K. F. Hui Collection, Hong Kong, 2002, pp.44-47.

    The current bottle is clearly one of his masterworks from a time when he was only producing a limited number of inside-painted bottles.

    Although it is not made explicit whose paintings he was imitating, the subject of a dragon painted in ink is a long standing traditional motif in Chinese painting. The most famous and earliest artist to paint dragons in ink was the Song dynasty artist Chen Rong (active 1235-1258) from Fujian province. One of his ink paintings of a dragon, a nine dragon scroll, is now preserved in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (accession number 17.1697), and is illustrated by T. Wu, Tales from the Land of Dragons:1000 years of Chinese painting, Boston, 1997, pp. 197-201.

    Indeed, this special genre also exists in different materials of art. For an example of a porcelain brush holder painted with a dragon and inscribed with a poem in sepia enamel (fig.1), a donation from the Zande Lou collection to the Art Museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, inscribed with a poem signed by Tang Ying (1682-1756), the supervisor of the Imperial kiln during the Yongzheng and Qianlong periods, see Peter Lam ed, Elegant vessels for the lofty pavilion: the Zande Lou gift of porcelain with studio marks, Hong Kong, 1993, pl.14. By comparing all the examples mentioned above, it is clear that Ding followed the traditional subject matter of Classical Chinese painting into this bottle, implanting his literati painting style on it.

    The reverse of the bottle is painted with a Buddhist lion with the inscription 'Imitating Tang Yin'. Tang Yin (1470-1524) was one of the great four renowned Ming dynasty painters who specialised in landscape and figurative painting. There does not, however, appear to be any extant painting by Tang Yin with subject matter of Buddhist lion, so it appears that this subject matter is more common to the snuff bottle creation. It is believed that Ding represented this common subject matter under the painting style of Tang Yin, which was an intelligent and groundbreaking style of representation.

    1902年 丁二仲 水晶內畫墨龍圖鼻煙壺


    Bob Stevens, 《Snuff Bottles》, 紐約, 1976年, 頁243, 圖版880及881
    Paul Braga, 《Hong Kong Chinese Snuff Bottle Collectors》, Arts of Asia, 1976月11-12月, 頁84



    雖然壺上沒有提示丁氏以何為本作墨龍圖,但在中國書畫傳統中,墨龍是中國書畫傳統中典型的題材。著名以墨龍入畫的畫家有宋代陳容(活躍於1235-1258),號所翁,福建長樂人。他擅詩文,善用水墨,以畫龍名重一時,現藏於美國波士頓博物館的《九龍圖卷》便是一例,見 T. Wu著,《Tales from the Land of Dragons:1000 years of Chinese painting》,波士頓,1997,頁197-201。自此傳統以後,多見不同畫家以墨龍為畫題,齊白石(1864-1957)、張大千(1899-1983)等著名畫家也有以此為題,構圖大致相同,以此追古。



Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this bottle is glass.
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