3638
3638
A RARE REALGAR GLASS SEAL PASTE BOX AND COVER
MARK AND PERIOD OF YONGZHENG
Estimate
800,0001,200,000
LOT SOLD. 1,625,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
3638
A RARE REALGAR GLASS SEAL PASTE BOX AND COVER
MARK AND PERIOD OF YONGZHENG
Estimate
800,0001,200,000
LOT SOLD. 1,625,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Chinese Art

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Hong Kong

A RARE REALGAR GLASS SEAL PASTE BOX AND COVER
MARK AND PERIOD OF YONGZHENG
of compressed globular form, supported on a straight foot, the opaque variegated brilliant orange and ochre-yellow glass swirled together to resemble the mineral, the base with a wheelcut four-character reign mark within a square
5.9 cm, 2 3/8  in.
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Catalogue Note

The attractive variegated swirls on this box were made in imitation of the orange-red coloured arsenic sulphide mineral realgar (xionghuang). Found in the southern provinces of China, this poisonous mineral was believed to contain the essence of gold and thus became a popular ingredient in Daoist recipes for longevity. Realgar has a soft crumbly texture and is highly toxic, hence its attractive natural pattern of swirls was reproduced in glass. 

Realgar glass appears to be an innovation of the early 18th century, and Yongzheng mark and period wares of this type are rare. Of the twelve glass objects inscribed with Yongzheng reign marks in the Palace Museum, Beijing, only a bottle vase appears to be made in imitation of realgar (accession no. gu00107602). Unmarked examples of realgar glass are more commonly known, such as a pair of facetted vases made prior to 1753, when they entered the collection of the British Museum, London, one of which illustrated in Soame Jenyns and William Watson, Chinese Art. The Minor Arts II, London, 1965, pl. 81; and a set of ten glass cups acquired in Guangzhou and brought to Europe in 1732, now in the Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen, published in Bente Dam Mikkelsen et. al., Ethnographic Objects in the Royal Danish Kunstkammer, 1650-1800, Copenhagen, 1980, p. 218, nos Ebc 71-82.

Realgar glass boxes inscribed with Qianlong reign marks are known: one in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Zhongguo jin yin boli falangqi quanji [Complete collection of Chinese gold, silver, glass and cloisonné enamel], vol. 4, Shijiazhuang, 2004, pl. 186; and another in the Andrew K. F. Lee collection, was included in the exhibition Elegance and Radiance, Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2000, cat. no. 134. Compare also a realgar box, lacking the reign mark but attributed to the Qianlong reign, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhang Rong, Lustre of Autumn Water. Glass of the Imperial Workshop, Beijing, 2005, pl. 39.

Important Chinese Art

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Hong Kong