A blue and white porcelain 'dragon' snuff bottle Jingdezhen, 1820–1860

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Lot 49Y
A blue and white porcelain 'dragon' snuff bottle
Jingdezhen, 1820–1860

Sold for HK$ 54,000 (US$ 6,897) inc. premium
A blue and white porcelain 'dragon' snuff bottle
Jingdezhen, 1820–1860
5.91cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 6, no. 1373

    青花龍紋雙蛙鼻煙壺
    景德鎮,1820~1860

    A blue and white porcelain 'dragon' snuff bottle

    ('Top Frog')

    Crackled colourless glaze on cobalt, and unglazed cobalt pigment on pale-beige porcelain; with a slightly convex lip and recessed, very slightly convex foot surrounded by a protruding, convex footrim; the foot of the spherical form moved up one side so the vessel sits with the axis through the mouth at a forty-five degree angle; a free-standing frog covered in oxidized cobalt perched at the summit of the bottle, which is painted under the glaze with two imperial five-clawed dragons set amidst clouds and flames; the lip painted with four bats facing inwards; the foot inscribed in underglaze-blue regular script, strangely off centre, Yongzheng nian zhi ('Made during the Yongzheng period'); inner neck and interior glazed
    Jingdezhen, 1820–1860
    Height: 5.91 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.82/1.96 cm
    Stopper: brown-stained bone, carved as a free-standing frog; stained walrus-ivory collar; original

    Condition:usual minor wear from use;otherwise, kiln condition

    Provenance:
    Robert Hall (1997)

    Published:
    Treasury 6, no. 1373

    Commentary
    An identical bottle is in the Musée Guimet Collection, although its mark, if it has one, remains unrecorded (Musée Guimet 1991, p. 25; also in Cerutti 1993, p. 155, lower left). Another variation, not quite as bulbous and decorated with figures, was offered by Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 3 May 1995, lot 635, where its apocryphal Yongzheng mark is noted. The main problem, of course, is how do we reconcile an imperial five-clawed dragon with an apocryphal mark on a bottle almost certainly made during the Daoguang period? It seems improbable that the court was ordering imperial bottles with fake marks on them, so there must be another reason why such wares have ended up in the imperial collection. It seems likely that such bottles were later acquisitions, since the imperial collection was not a static project. By the time the counterfeit bottles were added to the collection, they may have been mistakenly believed to be genuine articles that had strayed from imperial control. Use of the five-clawed dragon did not violate protocol, to the extent such things were controlled in the Daoguang period, because it graced a bottle that pretended to be a century or more old; imperial and private buyers alike would assume that it had originally been commissioned by the Yongzheng court. At present, it seems sensible to assume that on wrongly marked wares, neither imperial subjects nor imperial colours retained their original and authentic meaning.

    The painting and quality of the blue here can be confidently dated to the Daoguang period, and the dragon is quite typical of others with Daoguang marks. The form is rare, and seems to reflect a growing need for novelty during the nineteenth century, which is another reason, if another is needed, not to even consider it as a possible Yongzheng product. The placement of the mouth on this bottle ensures that the vessel can be filled only about half way without spilling when opened, but perhaps it was easier to get a heaping spoonful of snuff when the bottle was pre-tipped, so to speak. It is an interesting experiment that does not seem to be derived from any other shape, unless the designer had a strange sense of humour: the only Chinese vessels that spring to mind as remotely similar were used by men as a portable urinal. However, those are more elongated than spherical.

    The frog, a charming touch whose placement atop the sphere makes the form seem less accidental, is painted in uncovered cobalt that has oxidized, lacking a covering glaze to keep it blue. This is one of those rare occasions where we can be reasonably certain that the stopper is the original, despite being of an entirely different material. The example in the Musée Guimet has a very similar stopper, with a green frog on an ivory collar. It is a delightful idea to have the stopper as a second frog, allowing the two to stare at each other.

    青花龍紋雙蛙鼻煙壺

    鈷料上碎紋無色釉,淡米色瓷胎上無釉鈷料;微凸唇,微凸斂底,突出凸圈足; 傾斜壺身頂上蹲坐著獨立塗滿氧化鈷料的青蛙;底青花書偏離中心"雍正年製"楷款;頸內和內壁皆施釉
    景德鎮, 1820–1860
    高:5.91 厘米
    口經/唇經:0.82/1.96 厘米
    蓋:染棕色骨,雕立蛙; 著色海象牙 座; 原件

    狀態敘述:經過歲月的磨擦以後呈一般性的磨耗; 此外,出窯狀況

    來源:
    Robert Hall (1997)

    文獻:
    Treasury 6, 編號 1373

    說明:
    相同或類似的例子,請參閱本壺的英文說明。這大概是道光時期作的,雍正款是假的。那麼,皇家珍藏怎會有贗品呢?也許它們被收入珍藏的時候,已經很晚,人家以為它們是舊的御用煙壺,應該收回 。
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