A Canton enamel yellow-ground ‘Deer and Landscape’ snuff bottle, Mark and period of Yongzheng. Estimate 700,000 — 900,000 HKD. Lot Sold 2,020,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby’s
9 cm., 3 1/2 in.
PROVENANCE: Robert Hall, 1987.
EXHIBITED: Robert Hall, Chinese Snuff Bottles I, London Convention, London, 1987, no. 69.
Robert Kleiner, Boda Yang, and Clarence F. Shangraw, Chinese Snuff Bottles: A Miniature Art from the Collection of George and Mary Bloch, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1994, cat. no. 12.
National Museum of Singapore, Singapore, 1994-1995.
Robert Kleiner, Chinese Snuff Bottles in the Collection of Mary and George Bloch, British Museum, London, 1995, cat. no. 20.
Chinese Snuff Bottles in the Collection of Mary and George Bloch, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1997.
LITERATURE: Lindsey Hall, ‘Snuff Bottles from the Mary and George Bloch Collection on Exhibit in Singapore – A Review’, Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, Winter 1994, p. 36, fig. 1.
Victor E. Graham, ‘Images on Snuff Bottles’, Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, Winter 1995, p. 8, fig. 10.
Hugh Moss, Victor Graham and Ka Bo Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles: The Mary and George Bloch Collection, vol. 6, Hong Kong, 2007, no. 1129.
NOTE: There is ample evidence of courtly production at Guangzhou during the Yongzheng era, including the series of superbly made reign-marked examples represented by this and Sale 1, lot 114 and Sale 6, lot 188 and by two still in the imperial collection (Li Jiufang 2002, nos. 132, and 133). During the Yongzheng reign, palace production of snuff bottles did not reach anything like the regular production of the following reign, and a significant proportion of imperial enamelled-metal bottles was apparently produced in the South.
This elongated oval form is a typically southern one that, if the attribution of the group represented by Sale 7, lot 138 is correct, does not occur from the palace workshops. It is usually accompanied by a wide mouth. A thicker body wall would make the mouth opening smaller, but the mouth was simply the terminus of the neck and had the same inside diameter. It was not until the mid-Qianlong reign that a separate metal ‘washer’ was commonly soldered to the neck to form a lip with a smaller mouth.
The mark here is the standard brownish-black, four-character version found on Guangzhou enamels of the Yongzheng and subsequent Qianlong periods, written in regular script, of which function is to identify the piece as a product of the Yongzheng era.
The Yongzheng enamels on metal with symbolic subjects, including various flora and fauna in a landscape setting, did not aspire to high art, as did so much of the Beijing palace output. Their scenes are charming, but the intent is decorative and symbolic, and they were painted by local craftsmen, not master artists. Thanks to the lesser formality, however, the brushwork on these southern bottles is often delightfully spontaneous and uninhibited.
Sotheby’s. Snuff Bottles from the Mary & George Bloch Collection: Part IX. Hong Kong | 24 Nov 2014, 10:00 AM