3109
3109
A FINE GILT-DECORATED AND ENAMELLED MOULDED 'DOUBLE-GOURD' SNUFF BOTTLE
SEAL MARK AND PERIOD OF QIANLONG
Estimation
2 000 0003 000 000
Lot. Vendu 3,460,000 HKD (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
3109
A FINE GILT-DECORATED AND ENAMELLED MOULDED 'DOUBLE-GOURD' SNUFF BOTTLE
SEAL MARK AND PERIOD OF QIANLONG
Estimation
2 000 0003 000 000
Lot. Vendu 3,460,000 HKD (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

In His Majesty's Palm: Exquisite Porcelain Playthings

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Hong Kong

A FINE GILT-DECORATED AND ENAMELLED MOULDED 'DOUBLE-GOURD' SNUFF BOTTLE
SEAL MARK AND PERIOD OF QIANLONG
delicately moulded in the form of a double-gourd with a slightly flattened globular body surmounted by a small bulbous upper body with a gently flared mouthrim, the shoulder of the upper bulb with a small pair of loop handles, the body densely decorated with gourds borne on leafy vines, some finely enamelled and some rendered in relief, all against a pale beige ground decorated in gilt with feathery scrolls, the gently countersunk base inscribed in black enamel with a four-character seal mark within a square, stopper
5.2 cm, 2 in.
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Provenance

Collection of Mariel King (1907-69), granddaughter of J.R. Watkins, Minnesota.
Estate of Frank G. Mertes (1932-2014), Minnesota.

Description

This exceptional snuff bottle, one of a set created in limited numbers for the Qianlong Emperor, is a tactile delight, representing the apex of quality of all enamelled porcelain snuff bottles. Created early in his reign at Jingdezhen under the close supervision of Tang Ying, the quality of its complex moulded double-gourd form and the intricate delicacy of the enamelled design sets it apart from other porcelain examples. The painting is superb, with fluid rendition of the gourds, leaves and undulating scrolling vine, and an intricately picked out dense ground of scrolls in brilliant gold. Exquisite naturalism is achieved through the spontaneity of the undulating scrolling gourd vines and the vividness of the detailing, including the veins of the leaves, painstakingly rendered through carefully modulated black lines on the green enamel.

One of the set, from the Qing court collection, is still preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Snuff Bottles, Hong Kong, 2003, p. 201, no. 311. Those dispersed outside of the Imperial collection include one in the British Museum, on loan from the Sir Percival David Foundation, illustrated in Regina Krahl and Jessica Harrison-Hall, Chinese Ceramics. Highlights from the Sir Percival David Collection, London, 2009, p. 17, fig. 9; another sold at Christie’s New York, 2nd December 1993, lot 466, now in the collection of Denis Low, illustrated by Denis S.K. Low, More Treasures from the Sanctum of Enlightened Respect, Hong Kong, 2002, p. 174, no. 160; and a pair originally in the J and J Collection, one sold most recently at Bonhams Hong Kong, 23rd November 2010, lot 121, from the Mary and George Bloch Collection, which holds the current record price for any porcelain snuff bottle; and another most recently at Christie’s Hong Kong, 7th October 2014, lot 32, from a private American collection.

The same four-character seal mark, inscribed in black enamel within a square, can be seen on a yellow-ground famille-rose porcelain snuff bottle, also from the Qing court collection and still in Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures, op.cit., p. 194, no. 304, and on a blue-ground famille-rose porcelain snuff bottle, enamelled with a landscape scene and Imperial poem, sold in these rooms, 24th November 2014, lot 88, from the Mary and George Bloch Collection.

Peter Y.K. Lam expounds in ‘Imperial Famille Rose Decorated Snuff Bottles of the Qianlong Period in Chinese Collections’, Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, Autumn 2003, p. 6, that in the 12th month of the year corresponding to 1758, the Qianlong Emperor ordered that three snuff bottles be sent to Jingdezhen as models to produce ‘nine gourd-shaped snuff bottles, nine kidney-shaped snuff bottles and six vase-shaped snuff bottles’. It is possible that the set to which the current example belongs is one of these ‘nine gourd-shaped’ bottles, demonstrating the Qianlong Emperor’s exacting demands and stringent overview of the manufacture process of snuff bottles created under his personal attention.

Another entry in the Neiwufu records referring to a porcelain double-gourd snuff bottle with gilt stopper may also relate to one of this set. It states that on the 30th day of the 9th month of the 46th year, a cinnabar lacquer tiered case was manufactured to store snuff bottles. The description of the bottles placed inside on the 3rd day of the 10th month of the same year includes detailed descriptions of 'a falangcai gourd-shaped snuff bottle with a coral stopper, a porcelain gourd-shaped snuff bottle with a gilt stopper, an agate "melon" snuff bottle with stopper, and a white jade "twin mythical beast" snuff bottle with stopper'. 

In His Majesty's Palm: Exquisite Porcelain Playthings

|
Hong Kong