An Important Imperial enamel Chinese-subject snuff bottle Qianlong Mark and of the period (1736-95)

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Lot 669
An Important Imperial enamel Chinese-subject snuff bottle
Qianlong Mark and of the period (1736-95)

Sold for US$ 137,812 inc. premium
An Important Imperial enamel Chinese-subject snuff bottle
Qianlong Mark and of the period (1736-95)
Of rounded shape, decorated on one main face with a single long-tailed green-feathered white-breasted bird standing on blue taihu rockwork near large blossoming pink peony sprays and daisies and a large, lily flowerhead, two butterflies flitting nearby against a blue-stippled sky, the other main face similarly decorated with depictions of the same birds standing on thorny branches amidst blue rockwork set amongst large chrysanthemum flowerheads, two butterflies nearby, all set within a 'rocaille' cartouche with floral scroll edging, itself set upon a dark coffee ground with smaller pink and white landscape cartouches on the narrow sides and further 'pinks' flowerheads, all above a blue ruyi-lappet band above the gilt copper foot rim and below colorful leaf-lappets, a thin cell band, and a wider blue ground floral band at the neck and a gilt-copper mouth rim, the base enameled white and centered by the blue enamel four-character mark.
2in (5.1cm) high, stopper

Footnotes

  • 清乾隆 御製銅胎畫琺瑯花鳥紋鼻煙壺
    《乾隆年製》藍料楷書款

    Provenance:
    Hugh Moss Ltd, November 1970

    Published:
    The Antique Dealer and Collector Guide, Dec. 1970, p.95

    Hugh Moss, An Exhibition of Chinese Snuff Bottles, June 1970, p.82, #341

    Bob Stevens, The Collector's Book of Snuff Bottles, Tokyo 1976, no 982

    ICSBS Journal, September 1976, cover

    Emily Curtis, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Collection of Emily Byrne Curtis, Newark, Soho Bodhi, 1982, plate #35

    The closest comparable bottle to ours and conceivably by the same hand is illustrated in two Palace Museum publications, the first, Xia Gengqi and Zhang Rong, Masterpieces of Snuff Bottles in the Palace Museum, Beijing, 1995, p. 64, no. 32 and the second, Snuff Bottles, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, (Gugong bowuyuan cang wenwu zhenpin daxi. Shanghai: Shanghai kexue jishu chubanshe), 2002, p. 96, no. 147. It shares so many characteristics with ours, including, a very similar main bird cartouche with a blue stippled sky, the rocaille scroll surrounds, a dark coffee ground, pink landscape panels on the narrow sides, and a blue enamel Qianlong mark.

    Another also painted with butterflies and peonies on a stippled blue ground is illustrated in Snuff Bottles in the Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1991, p. 87, no. 21.

    For another Imperial enamel bottle also painted with a Chinese subject (bats, waves and prunus) and a discussion of the evolution of enamel design in the Qianlong period, see Hugh Moss, Victor Graham and Ka Bo Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, The Mary and George Bloch Collection, Vol. 6, Part 1, Arts of the Fire, pp. 230-232, no. 1107. For two bottles with very similar treatment of the side panels and ground decoration, each with pink landscape vignettes on a scrolling ground (and European ladies to the main panels), see Christie's, New York, 2 June 1994, lot 505 and 1-2 December 1994, lot 560.The pink landscape vignettes are common to highly Imperial production in the enameling workshops of the Beijing Palace, whether on metal, glass or porcelain, and were also echoed in ceramic production at Jingdezhen.

    For a superb Guangzhou enamel bottle with a brownish-black four-character Qianlong mark to the foot and painted with similar floral and butterfly scenes set within rocaille-bordered panels, see Robert Hall, Chinese Snuff Bottles, Masterpieces from the Rietberg Museum, Zurich, 1993, pp. 26-27, no. 7

    Another enamel bottle delicately painted with birds and butterflies amidst peony and prunus set against a stippled blue ground is illustrated by Hugh M. Moss, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Collection of the Rt. Hon. The Marquess of Exeter, K.C.M.G., London, 1974, pp.106-107, no. E.19.

    For a discussion on the tell-tale fine white lines suffusing the entire surface of our bottle and which we can also be found on many Imperial workshop enamels, see Hugh Moss, Victor Graham and Ka Bo Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, The J & J Collection, Vol. 1, New York & Tokyo, 1993, p. 288-289, no. 177. Problems with the enameling on copper bodies and glass continued well into the Qianlong reign. The slight incompatibility of enamel and metal in a number of firings, often caused a break in the surface tension of the painted layer, leaving a fine network of white lines or 'pulls' in the design. Very few bottles are entirely free of this.
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An Important Imperial enamel Chinese-subject snuff bottle Qianlong Mark and of the period (1736-95)
An Important Imperial enamel Chinese-subject snuff bottle Qianlong Mark and of the period (1736-95)
An Important Imperial enamel Chinese-subject snuff bottle Qianlong Mark and of the period (1736-95)
An Important Imperial enamel Chinese-subject snuff bottle Qianlong Mark and of the period (1736-95)
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