On 28 May, Bonhams Hong Kong will offer 141 Chinese snuff bottles from the celebrated Mary and George Bloch Collection. The total sale is expected to achieve in excess of HK$40 million.

The habit of using ground tobacco (snuff) was introduced to Asia by 17th century Western travellers from Europe, where it was an exotic import from the Americas. Chinese snuff takers found that traditional Western snuffboxes did not work well in the humid climates of Asia, and from the later 17th century Chinese craftsmen created small airtight bottles to keep the ground tobacco in perfectly dry condition.

Snuff bottles were manufactured on a grand scale throughout the Qing dynasty, but the majority consists of low quality examples used by those outside of elite circles. However, a highly select group of masterpieces was commissioned for the Imperial court.

Several great collections were formed in the early 20th century in Asia, Europe and the USA. However, no collection formed in the modern era can rival that formed by the late George Bloch (1920-2009). It consists of 1720 bottles, purchased at auction and from leading international snuff bottle dealers from 1983 onwards. Extensively published and exhibited at the Hong Kong Museum of Art and British Museum, it is widely regarded as the highest quality collection of snuff bottles in private hands. In May 2010, Bonhams will offer 141 of these at auction in Hong Kong, in what should prove to be the greatest ever sale of Chinese snuff bottles.

As a growing number of collectors vie for the best snuff bottles their value has been rapidly increasing. Over the past decade prices have increased fourfold making them a highly portable alternative investment. One bottle recently sold at auction for over US$ 800,000, reflecting a remarkable surge in prices at the top end of the market.

Bonhams has arranged international previews of the Bloch Collection in New York, Taipei, and Singapore prior to the preview and auction in Hong Kong.

Colin Sheaf, Chairman of Bonhams Asia, said: "Bonhams is greatly honoured to be selling snuff bottles from this world famous collection whose contents span three centuries of top-level Chinese craftsmanship. Every knowledgeable and committed collector of Chinese art will be keen to own one or more of these snuff bottles as they represent the best of the best, which is a tribute to the discerning eye of their collector."

A second sale of snuff bottles carefully selected from this remarkable Bloch Collection will be held in Hong Kong later this year.

Highlights of the first sale include:








A 'famille-rose'-enamelled glass 'bird on branch' snuff bottle. Imperial, palace workshops, Qianlong blue-enamel mark and of the period, 1736–1760. 4.55cm high. Estimate: HK$2,000,000 - 4,000,000. photo Bonhams

Footnote: Treasury 6, no. 1068


Palace Desires

Famille rose enamels on semi-transparent milky glass; with a flat lip and slightly recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding convex footrim; painted with a continuous scene of a bird perched on a leafy branch with asters growing nearby and a butterfly settling on the flower of a tree peony, with another bloom and budding branches nearby, the neck, shoulders, and the base with formalized bands incorporating lingzhi, the shoulders with additional pendant leaves, the outer footrim with pendant petals, the foot inscribed in blue regular script, Qianlong nian zhi (Made during the Qianlong period)
Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, 1736–1760
Height: 4.55 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.66/1.40 cm
Stopper: gilt bronze, chased with a formalized floral design
Condition: minor natural surface wear, none of it obtrusive; otherwise, perfect. General relative condition: excellent, almost kiln condition

Provenance: Arthur Gadsby
Ian Wasserman
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., (circa 1972)
The Loch Awe Collection
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd. (1985)

Published: Moss 1976, plate 39 (text pp. 62-63)
JICSBS, March 1979, p. 22, figs. 39 and 40
Kleiner 1987, no. 13
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 17
Kleiner 1995, no. 27
Treasury 6, no. 1068, and front and back covers of one volume

Exhibited: Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993
Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
National Museum of Singapore, November 1994–February 1995
British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

Commentary: A distinctive feature of early-Qianlong painted enamels on glass is the relative thinness of the enamels and the painterly quality of the brushwork. Court artists, highly trained in the tradition of calligraphic brushwork that gave Chinese painting one of its most profound inner languages, were involved in drawing up the designs and sometimes in painting the enamels. Failing that, it was skilled enamellers trained in the same aesthetic and overseen by court artists who produced them from preparatory sketches. Artistically, these early, painterly enamels represent the apogee of glass enamelling during the Qing dynasty. In the early phase of the art form, from the late Kangxi until the 1750s or early 1760s, technical control of the enamels was still marginal, and all known examples exhibit some degree of pitting or discolouration of the enamels. This continued to be a problem with some colours into the second half of the Qianlong reign. Although far from obtrusive, here the green enamel in particular (a perennially problematic colour) is pitted, as is the blue in places, but it is otherwise remarkably well fired for the period.

This design is purely Chinese in its conception, without any hint of the Western influence that appears, not unnaturally, in some wares with European subjects that rely to a greater extent on the use of colour and chiaroscuro rather than line to create form. The flower heads drawn without lines here do not by that quality reflect Western influence, but rather the 'bodiless' style made famous by Yun Shouping (1633–1690), whose works would have been well known to any court artist a mere half century after the painter's death. Here, the blossoms are balanced against the other elements of the design featuring the elegant black lines of the calligrapher's brush, with well modulated, expressive strokes.

The reign marks on these early-Qianlong enamelled glass bottles are distinctive and intriguing; rather than being in bold relief, they are flush with the foot. This is in sharp contrast to the raised blue enamel marks of the mid- to late reign and, oddly, to the use of blue enamel on the bodies of the bottles themselves, which although seldom in high relief, does not give the impression of being flush with the surface. The discrepancy between the reaction of the blue enamel on the body of the work and on the mark suggests a difference between either the enamels or the firing conditions of the two. It may have something to do with the greater fluidity required for mark writing. Once enamels have been produced in a glassworks, they are kept in solid form. In preparation for use, the solid enamel is crushed and reduced to a fine, even powder that is then mixed with a liquid so that it forms a paint that can be brushed onto the surface to be enamelled. Depending upon the colour of enamel and desired effect, the liquid may vary, but Tang Ying identified three media in 1743 (cf. Treasury 6, Chronological List, fifth month, twenty second day):

The five-colour painting that imitates Western [techniques] is called yangcai [Western colours]. A skillful painting craftsman is selected and the various colours are mixed....The colours employed are the same as those used for fuolang se [=falang cai, perhaps referring to cloisonné enamelling]. They are mixed with three different kinds of medium, the first being yunxiang oil [rue oil?], the second being liquid glue, the third being water. The oil facilitates washes; glue facilitates daubing, water facilitates building up or filling in [surface irregularities].

Another oil medium mentioned in the archives is duoermen or duoermendina oil, for which the English term doermendina oil has been invented (see Treasury 6, Chronological List, 1728, seventh month, tenth day); it was apparently imported and is possibly identifiable as turpentine (Zhou Sizhong 2008, p. 152, n. 1).

In any case, it is possible that whichever medium facilitated brushwork fluency had a concomitant effect on the chemistry of the enamel, encouraging it to eat into the surface of the glass to a greater extent. Another factor contributing to the singularity of some early-Qianlong reign marks is that some of them appear to have been polished. This is one example, but the most obvious is Treasury 6, no. 1071. Perhaps this was done mainly to resolve problems of the roughness arising from burst bubbles during the firing (of which there were obviously many on Treasury 6, no. 1071). Whatever accounts for these distinctive marks, the phenomenon remains extremely useful in identifying early-Qianlong enamels on glass, as they have the distinctive appearance of being flush with the glass surface, or at least in very low relief, while late- Qianlong examples are in higher relief — as are the copies of both Ye Bengqi and his student Wang Xisan.

The design here contains the usual selection of auspicious symbolism. The peony stands for wealth; the asters (lanju) for the arrival of male (nan) children; the bird, a white-headed bulbul (baitouweng) and the peonies together call to mind the common desire for wealth to last till one's old age (fugui baitou); the composite design of a butterfly hovering over a flower signifies the affection between lovers; while the formalized lingzhi heads along the borders, resembling the heads of ruyi sceptres, imply wish fulfilment (ruyi). Two closely related bottles are in the J & J Collection (Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, nos. 187 and 188), and another, although perhaps a little later, is in the imperial collection, Beijing (Li Jiufang 2002 , no. 104).


半透明乳白色玻璃施琺瑯彩;平唇、平斂底、突出凸形圈足;通體繪一白頭翁棲於枝頭,有藍菊、含苞的牡丹枝,有蝴蝶棲息於一朵盛開之牡丹花上,頸、肩、近圈足處飾不同如意紋,肩部間加垂蕉葉紋,圈足外壁繪如頸部 "C" 形相背雲紋的簡化圖案; 底藍琺瑯彩書二行"乾隆年製"楷款

高:4.55 厘米
口經/唇經:0.66/1.40 厘米

來源:Arthur Gadsby
Ian Wasserman
Hugh M. Moss, Ltd (約1972)
Loch Awe 珍藏 (作家瑪麗.斯圖爾特夫人)
Hugh Moss (HK), Ltd (1985)

文獻:Moss 1976, 插圖39(論述,頁62~63)
《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 1979年3月,頁22,圖39、40
Kleiner 1987, 編號13
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, 編號17
Kleiner 1995,編號27
Treasury 6,編號1068、第一封面、封底

展覽﹕Sydney L. Moss Ltd, 倫敦, 1987年10 月
Creditanstalt, 維也納, 1993年5月~6月
香港藝術館,1994年3 月~6月
National Museum of Singapore, 1994年11月~1995年1月
大英博物館, 倫敦, 1995年6月~10 月
Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷, 1997年7月~11月



這些乾隆早年的白料琺瑯彩煙壺的年款具有一個引人興趣的特點,它們和周圍的底是齊平的。乾隆中、後期的卻是凸起的。再看本壺底款以外的藍彩,好像也是稍微凸起的,要不是因為燒窯情況的不同,便可能是因為材料的差異。寫字和繪畫的要求不一樣,磨製琺瑯坯子的時候用不同的媒質材料是合乎情理的。 如唐英《陶冶圖說》說﹕"五彩繪畫仿西洋曰洋彩。選畫作高手,調合各種顏色......所用顏色,與琺瑯色同。調法有三﹕一用芸香油;一用膠水;一用清水。油便渲染,膠便搨刷,清水便堆填也"(桑行之1993,頁139)。還有所謂多爾門油或多爾門的那油,是"西洋人......燒琺瑯調色用"的, 或許就是松節油(周思中2008,頁152,注1)。且不說芸香油和多爾門油到底是甚麼媒質,我們推測,當時調合書年款用的琺瑯彩的媒質可能是燒窯時侵蝕玻璃面的,因而款識和周圍的底是齊平的。乾隆早期的年款還有另一個特色﹕有的好像是磨光的。本壺就是一個例子;Treasury 6,編號1071是更明顯的例子。也許磨光底款的目的是修補氣泡產生的麻點。無論如何,這些特點對鑒定玻璃胎畫琺瑯的乾隆早期作品應該很有用,應該有助於辨別乾隆晚期的玻璃胎畫琺瑯煙壺和葉仲三、王習三的仿造品。

與本壺可以聯系的有 J & J 珍藏的兩件(Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, 編號187、188);後來的有故宮珍藏中的一件(李久芳2002,編號104)。







A 'famille-rose' porcelain moonflask 'landscape' snuff bottle. Attributed to Tang Ying, Imperial kilns, Jingdezhen, Qianlong iron-red seal mark and of the period, 1736–1756. 5.08cm high (original ivory stopper and spoon). Estimate: HK$1,400,000 - 2,000,000. photo Bonhams

Footnote: Treasury 6, no. 1149


Southern Moon-Flask

Famille rose enamels on colourless glaze on porcelain; with a convex lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flattened footrim; the slightly convex circular panel on each main side painted with waterside landscape scenes, one a winter scene in which two scholars, one holding a walking staff, cross a bridge towards a house beneath pines, a view through the window revealing a volume of books set on a desk inside, with a distant open pavilion on the far bank of the river beyond, the other a spring scene in which a scholar, also with a walking staff, crosses a bridge towards a fenced dwelling beneath trees, with paddy fields in the distance; the panels surrounded by a diaper design of interlocking fylfots (wan symbols); the neck with a band of acanthus leaves; the foot inscribed in iron-red seal script Qianlong nian zhi (Made during the Qianlong period); the lip, inside of the neck, and footrim all painted gold; the interior glazed
Attributed to Tang Ying, imperial kilns, Jingdezhen, 1736–1756
Height: 5.08 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.70/1.09
Stoppers: ivory; original
Condition: perfect condition, very close to kiln condition, with only minor wear to some of the gold enamel on the narrow sides; even the gilding of foot and lip remains intact. General relative condition: outstanding. Original ivory stopper, cork, and spoon also perfect

Provenance: Robert Hall (1995)

Published: Hall 1995, no. 1
Robert Hall, business Christmas card, 1995
JICSBS, Winter 1995, p. 1
Robert Hall, business brochure, undated
Sin, Hui, and Kwong 1996, no. 95
Treasury 6, no. 1149
JICSBS, Spring 2009, p. 9, fig. 9

Exhibited: The Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, October 1996

It was once generally believed that the production of porcelain snuff bottles did not begin significantly until the second half of the Qianlong period. Early-Qianlong enamelled porcelain snuff bottles were extremely rare and, until very recently, few of them had been published. However, with the recent publication of several early bottles associated with Tang Ying, who directed the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen during the early Qianlong period, and recent access to the imperial Archives concerning the manufacture of works of art, we now have a clearer picture of porcelain snuff-bottle production.

This bottle is part of a series of the same form and colour scheme but with different landscape panels, each with one or more scholars in evidence. Six are known in addition to this one, and another in the Bloch Collection (Treasury 6, no. 1148), making eight in all. They are published in Geng Baochang and Zhao Binghua 1992, no. 137 (also in JICSBS, Spring 2006, p. 4, fig. 3); Lam 2003, p. 8, figs. 3a-c; Sotheby's, New York, 23 March 1998, lot 79, (also in JICSBS, Autumn 1998, p. 24, fig. 2, a pair now in the Crane Collection); and a pair in Drouot, Millon-Jutheau, Paris, 2 February 1983.

From the condition of the ivory spoons, the silk binding of the cork, and the enamels, it is obvious that the Bloch examples were barely used before becoming treasured collector's items, and they probably resided in the imperial collection for some long time before leaking onto the market, most likely between 1860 and 1924. The fact that the delicate original stoppers, ivory spoons, and integral corks (wrapped around with imperial yellow silk to provide a tight fit) have survived is another indication that the bottles are probably from the imperial collection and were not distributed by the court t the time.

We know from the records that the emperor instructed Tang Ying not to make stoppers for the fifty porcelain snuff bottles he required each year (see Chronological List in Treasury 6, for 1744, third month, sixteenth day). Thus, Tang Ying bottles from the early Qianlong reign were stoppered only after they arrived at the court; even though several, including the Bloch examples, have what appear to be original stoppers, none of the surviving examples has porcelain stoppers. Another of Tang Ying's likely products (in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Collection) has a similar, original ivory stopper. It is part of another series of bottles with poems and seals mentioned under Treasury 6, no. 1150. This suggests that what we see here was a standard type. We have in the past referred to this type of stopper as an 'official's-hat' stopper, but here it can be seen to resemble the emperor's more elaborate formal hats, a far more likely source of inspiration on imperial snuff bottles. An extraordinary original stopper on a unique Yongzheng enamelled-metal snuff bottle in the Marakovic Collection (China Guardian, 21 October 1996, lot 1879; also JICSBS, Spring 2004, front cover, centre) is based on the emperor's hat, complete with a real pearl finial. It is, no doubt, an early and more realistic prototype of the standard later form with its simplified, smaller finial and integral collar. The ivory version which appears on some Tang Ying bottles, including this one, are of the earlier type, with their more prominent finials.

To what extent these bottles were made as a set, or as significant groups of two, four, six, eight, or however many, is not clear. Although the scenes here may have been intended to represent the four seasons, the only apparent connection between the sixteen different scenes on the eight known bottles is the predominance of scholars in landscape.

The construction of these bottles is interesting and may throw some light on the early range of bottles supervised by Tang Ying. They are constructed in the standard Qing-dynasty way of making a moon flask, by luting two moulded halves together vertically along the narrow sides. (The earlier, Ming method for moon flasks — snuff bottles did not exist then — was to lute two sections horizontally). The bulging strip of slip porcelain that was used to lute them together remains clearly visible on the inside, although the outside has been smoothed off to conceal the join. In this case, however, a rare departure for the snuff-bottle world is seen in the treatment of the foot, made separately and luted onto an oval hole left in the original two-part mould for the main body. This leaves an oval recession inside where the hollow foot is affixed to the body. This distinctive feature is also found on Treasury 6, no. 1150, also attributed to Tang Ying's supervision, and on all of the other early bottles likely to have been made under his watchful eye that we have been able to handle so far.

The formal quality of this group of early-Qianlong porcelain snuff bottles and the standard of the painting and enamelling are extraordinary. The scenes are each individually composed and exquisitely painted. Since its identification, this early group of imperial porcelain snuff bottles has been widely admired and has appropriately drawn a great deal of attention from collectors. They are far harder to find than imperial enamels on metal produced at the palace workshops contemporaneously, and they are as rare as palace enamelled glass bottles of the early Qianlong period, perhaps even rarer.

The involvement of Tang Ying personally in this series of bottles is discussed under Treasury 6, no. 1150, and is also the subject of an article: Moss 2009. Although we have left open the possibility of this group of bottles dating from later in Tang's career, they may well date from as early as the 1740s.



高:5.085 厘米
口經/唇經:0.70/1.09 厘米

來源:羅伯特.霍爾 (1995)

文獻:Robert Hall 1995, 編號1
羅伯特.霍爾, 商務聖誕卡, 1995年
《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society 1995冬期,頁1
羅伯特.霍爾, 商務冊子,未注明年月日
冼祖謙、許建勳、鄺溥銘 1996,編號 95
Treasury 6, 編號 1149
《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society 2009春期,頁9,圖9

展覽:徐氏藝術館,香港,1996年10 月17日~11月15日


本壺以山水中的文人逸士為開光畫題,以此形式和色彩設計相同者,已知的有七件,包括伯樂珍藏還有一件,Treasury 6編號1148。也有耿寶昌、趙炳驊,《中國鼻煙壺珍賞》, 編號137 (亦發表於《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 2006春期,頁4,圖3);林業强 2003, 頁8,圖3a~3c;蘇富比,紐約,1998年3 月23日,拍賣品號79(亦發表於《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 1998秋期,頁24,圖2,兩件,今為Crane 珍藏所收); 和Druout, Millon-Jutheau, 巴黎,1983年2月2日,兩件。


《造辦處各作成做活計檔案》載:"乾隆九年三月十六日,唐英將造燒的洋彩錦上添花各式鼻煙壺四十件,持進交太監胡世傑進呈,奉旨:嗣後鼻煙壺每年只燒五十,著其中不要大了,亦不要小了,其鼻煙壺蓋不必燒來"(張榮2008,頁13引)。據此知道乾隆早期的瓷煙壺到了北京以後才安裝蓋,雖然本壺和其他的幾件都帶原件的蓋,果然沒有一件是瓷製的。費城藝術博物館藏的一件可推定為唐英指揮下作的煙壺帶有類似的原件牙蓋, 好像這是一種標準型式。(費城的煙壺屬於一系列題詩帶款的煙壺,請參閱Treasury 6, 編號 1150下的論述。)我們以前把這種蓋叫做"官帽蓋",但是本件也許更像皇帝的朝冠,非賜品的宮廷用器帶樣式比較壯偉的蓋,也是合乎情理的。Marakovic珍藏中有帶特殊原件蓋的雍正銅胎琺瑯彩煙壺(中國嘉德國際拍賣有限公司,1996年10月21日,拍賣品號1879; 《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 2004春期,封面),那件蓋以皇帝的冠冕為模型,連珍珠頂都有。它無疑是早期而比較逼真的原型,後來的尖頂飾是簡化的、較小。本壺和其他一些唐英作的煙壺所帶頂飾較突出的蓋則是早期的式樣。


這系列煙壺的工藝很有意思,也有助理解早期的唐窯。用的是清朝典型的月琴形煙壺製作法,即把以模子成型的前後兩塊坯子拼接。(明代月琴形器的製作法是把成型的上下兩塊拼接,當時這種煙壺並不存在,且不討論。)壺內側壁可見有一帶粘接的瓷漿。背離煙壺工藝常規的是足的處理。足是另一部件,底部留了一個洞,足就被黏上去了,壺內足體黏合的地方有椰圓形的凹痕。上舉Treasury 6, 編號 1150以及到現在為止能夠查驗所有的早期唐窯也都具有同樣的凹痕。


關於唐英躬自指揮和參入這系列琺瑯煙壺的燒造事宜,可參閱Treasury 6 編號1150的論述和 Moss 2009。 這系列煙壺可能是唐窯後期的製品,但也可能是乾隆4年到14年那麼早的製品。







A Beijing enamel European-subject snuff bottle. Imperial, palace workshops, 1736–1760, Qianlong blue-enamel mark and of the period. 4.22cm high. Estimate: HK$1,800,000 - 3,000,000. photo Bonhams

Footnote: Treasury 6, no. 1076


Gathering Clouds

Famille rose enamels on copper, with gold; with a flat lip and slightly recessed concave foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim; painted on each main side with a foliate panel of European subjects, one a woman and a young boy with an elaborate building and trees in the background, the other a woman with a basket of flowers and fruit and a young boy with buildings and the tree-clad banks of a stream behind her, the panels surrounded by a formalized floral design; the neck with a formalized floral band; the foot inscribed in blue regular script, Qianlong nian zhi (Made during the Qianlong period), the interior covered with a patchy, turquoise-blue enamel, the exposed metal all gilt
Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, 1736–1760
Height: 4.55 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.70/1.13 cm
Stopper: gilt bronze, chased with a formalized floral design; probably original
Condition: perfect and in kiln condition, with even the original gilding intact; some minor original pitting of some of the enamels, particularly the olive-green around the neck and very minor separation lines visible only under magnification. General relative condition: extraordinarily good

Provenance: A. W. Bahr
Robert H. Ellsworth
Christie's, New York, 9 May 1981, lot 419
Hugh M. Moss, Ltd (1981)
Paula J. Hallett (1986)
Hugh Moss (HK), Ltd (1986)

Published: JICSBS, Winter 1986, front cover
Kleiner 1987, no. 2
Galeries Lafayette 1990, p. 7, no. 1
Illustrated London News, Summer 1990, p. 49
Orient Express Magazine, Summer 1990, p. 49
Prestige, Summer 1990, p. 49
E & O Magazine 2, no. 4 (1994), p. 62
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 6
Kleiner 1995, no. 3
Treasury 6, no. 1076

Exhibited: Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Galeries Lafayette, Paris, April 1990
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993
Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
National Museum of Singapore, November 1994–February 1995
British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

Commentary: The extraordinary artistry of painted enamels at the palace workshops during the early Qianlong period can be seen in so many aspects of surviving examples. There is a wide range of subjects, and where a subject is repeated it is always recomposed as a fresh, vital work of art. Given the quantity of bottles that must have been produced with the theme of a European mother and child, for instance, this speaks of a very high level of artistic commitment. It would have been so easy to simply make a number of bottles of the same composition, from the same preparatory drawing, but this was rarely done at the palace workshops prior to the second half of the Qianlong period, and even then sparingly and only in the case of a few designs.
The variation in early palace enamel designs, even of similar themes, is spectacularly demonstrated here. By introducing dark clouds to the common motif of mother and child, the artist has created an entirely different mood, enlivening a standard theme. Elsewhere, skies are left in pale blue and white to indicate clouds in a blue sky, or simply shaded a very pale blue for a cloudless sky, both idyllic. The effect of the brooding, grey sky suggesting a gathering storm is dramatic, starkly emphasizing the white buildings and their European style and the slightly melancholic expressions of the women. Portraiture in China, other than of certain deities, rarely depicts smiling faces, and the standard for women in the Qing dynasty was for either inscrutability or a melancholic, wistful look. None of the European women depicted on enamels is smiling, and yet we get the impression that they are happy because of the idyllic setting. Gathering, brooding clouds change all that, and we have only to compare this scene to Treasury 6, no. 1077 to fully grasp their effect.

Another feature of these early-Qianlong palace masterpieces is the extraordinary variation in the borders and surrounding decoration that, despite being peripheral detail, commanded equal artistic commitment. Not until the mid-reign do we begin to see repeated borders and the repetition of certain compositions with little variation between them, hinting at the beginning of a reduction in artistic standards and a shift to the more decorative intent of some of the enamels from the last third of the reign. Technically, the art of enamelling may remain the same or, in the case of enamelled glass, improve during the mid-century, but artistically the first third of the reign represents the zenith of Qianlong enamelling. The borders here are spectacular. They employ a visual trick similar to that seen in the main panels, setting the design against a darker ground to create contrast and emphasis. The yellow dots filling the olive-green ground at the shoulders and around the base and the similar colour scheme for the floral band around the neck are extremely rare and appear only on this example and in a small way on Treasury 6, no. 1077. The palace artists, designers, and administrators responsible for enamels in the first two decades of the reign were obviously revelling in their newfound technical skills and responded to the intense interest of the emperor with astonishing artistry. In bottles such as this, it shows. Like most enamelled metal bottles from the period, this example appears to the naked eye to have fired to perfection, but as usual, magnification reveals a few tiny areas of pitting in the enamels.



高:4.55 厘米

來源:A. W. Bahr
Robert H. Ellsworth
佳士得,紐約,1981年5 月9日,拍賣品號419
Hugh M. Moss, Ltd (1981)
Paula J. Hallett (1986)
Hugh Moss (HK), Ltd (1986

文獻:《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 1986冬期,封面
Kleiner 1987,編號2
Galeries Lafayette 1990, 頁7,編號1
Illustrated London News, 1990年夏期,頁49
Orient Express Magazine, 1990年夏期,頁49
Prestige, 1990年夏期,頁49
E & O Magazine 2, 第4號 (1994年),頁62
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, 編號6
Kleiner 1995, 編號3
Treasury 6,編號1076

展覽﹕Sydney L. Moss Ltd, 倫敦, 1987年10 月
Galeries Lafayette, 巴黎,1990年4月
Creditanstalt, 維也納, 1993年5月~6月
香港藝術館,1994年3 月~6月
National Museum of Singapore, 1994年11月~1995年1月
大英博物館, 倫敦, 1995年6月~10 月
Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷, 1997年7月~11月









An inscribed nephrite pebble-material snuff bottle; Zhiting School, Suzhou, 1740–1840; 8.65cm high. Estimate: HK$1,000,000 - 2,000,000. photo Bonhams

Footnote: Treasury 1, no. 125


'Stone like Gold' Suzhou Pebble

Nephrite of pebble material; carved with a continuous rocky landscape scene in which an elderly scholar walks past a lotus pond while another scholar is seen poised, with his brush in the air, having inscribed a rock face with the three characters shi ru jin (stone [prized] like gold), an attendant at his side holding his inkstone, with a pine tree and a wutong tree growing among the rocks and wisps of formalized clouds floating in the air

Zhiting school, Suzhou, 1740–1840
Height: 8.65 cm
Mouth: 0.62 cm
Stopper: jadeite, carved as a twig carved with leaves
Condition: minor trim to pine needles beside mouth, barely noticeable without a magnifying glass; five tiny chips to raised characters of the inscription; small chip on lotus leaf below old man with walking stick; nothing obtrusive

Provenance: Drouot (Millon Jutheau), Paris, 1 and 2 March 1984, lot 148 and front cover
Robert Hall (1987)

Published: Hall 1987, no. 53 and dust-jacket cover, front and back
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 41
Treasury 1, no. 125 and front and back covers

Exhibited: Robert Hall Gallery, London, October 1987
Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June, 1994
National Museum, Singapore, November 1994–February 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1997

Commentary: There are very few Suzhou nephrite snuff bottle which have greater impact than this one. It is, quite simply, stunning. The pebble material has as richly marked a skin as any known pebble, with a thick outer layer of vivid, russet-brown giving way to a paler colour beneath, and the core material is half white and half an intriguing dark-brown speckled beige material. This is the nephrite equivalent of the extraordinary agate bottle in the J & J Collection (Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 140) where a material miracle of nature has inspired the artist to extraordinary achievement.

"Cherish stone as if it were gold" is a common declaration of principle among the many Chinese who collect interesting stones or who prize fine stones for seal carving and other arts. And if it is to be carved, as little of the stone as possible is to be taken away. Here is the pronouncement of one connoisseur writing about tianhuang, 'field yellow', a famous variety of Shoushan stone from Shou Mountain in Fujian; this stone is particularly prized for seal carving:

Because tianhuang stone is so precious, most collectors would rather keep it in its natural, uncarved state than go at it with carving tools. Even if they are going to make a seal out of it, they will seek out a famous expert, and the expert seal carver himself will usually cherish the stone like gold, and rack his brains to avoid the unbearable, which would be to carve the whole thing (those three seals of the Qianlong emperor are exceptions—and actually a terrible waste). They will use relief carving or shallow relief carving to disguise or pick out the flaws in the stone, just to make it more charming.... (Yang Tianliang 1995, p. 521)

Could there be any better expression of the spirit with which our Suzhou artist has approached this nephrite pebble? In making this snuff bottle, he has tried to preserve as much of the pebble's true 'face' as possible. The gentleman inscribing the cliff with his message has made this intention explicit in words (though he does not deign to spell the full expression out for us), speaking for the carver to us across the ages.

The relief carving also shifts the real-life scene depicted to the realm of the art of the snuff bottle, where the available skin has dictated the difference in colour and the relief carving, and in which the relief merely stands for the prominence of freshly brushed ink and is no more intended as the substance of material reality than the scale of the tree behind the scholar or the formalized clouds which float in so powerful an abstract manner above his head. Together with the fluency with which everything is carved, this ambiguity between the objective reality of the real world and the subjective reality of the work of art is powerful and intriguing. This can also be seen in the relationship between the scholar and his attendant, which is sculpturally brilliant. Both are entirely believable as real figures, with superbly controlled, three-dimensional carving showing every fold of their garments, every nuance of expression, and yet both are posed for maximum abstract impact as well, which is not a paradox in Chinese aesthetics where artists have been creating abstract paintings made
up entirely of representational detail since as early as the twelfth century. The inscription is finished but the scholar stands poised with his brush apparently about to embark upon the third character, one hand holding his sleeve away from the rock surface so as not to smudge the ink as he writes. The attendant holds the inkstone tilted to such an angle that the already ground ink would run off immediately, and yet by doing so both the nature of the object and the sculptural movement are revealed far more powerfully than if it had been depicted in a functional manner. The placing and pose of the two figures link them with the inscription on the rock as a third element in a powerful, abstract composition which makes nonsense of the tiny scale of the scene and becomes monumental.

On the opposite side, the elderly scholar walks with a stick beside a lotus pond, with leaves and a bloom rising on long stalks from the rippling water. Each of the leaves and the bloom are carved using the darker surface skin, setting them in sharp contrast to the ground and to the lower layer used for a rock-face against which they partly grow. The bloom seems almost animated, facing the elderly sage as if the two were communing, as, indeed, they may well be. It was a common phenomenon for scholars on their countryside jaunts to pause and become engrossed in the minutiae of nature, and a 'conversation'
with a lotus bloom, in terms of deep communication with its inner qualities, was no more fanciful than a more conventional conversation with a fellow aesthete.

Throughout this extraordinary work of art, the control of the medium and confidence of expression are total. The sculptural detail has the fluidity of a master painting, and the finish is impeccable with each plane of relief perfectly separated from the next and powerful forms juxtaposed for maximum visual effect.



高:8.65 厘米
口經:0.62 厘米

來源:Druout (Millon Jutheau),巴黎,1984年3月1、2日,拍賣品號148、封面

文獻﹕Kleiner 1987, 編號53,包書紙面、底
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, 編號41
Treasury 1, 編號125,封面、封底

展覽﹕Robert Hall Gallery, 倫敦,1987年10月
香港藝術館,1994年3 月~6月
National Museum of Singapore, 1994年11月~1995年1月
Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷, 1997年7月~11月


由於田黃石甚為珍貴,故一般藏家寧可保持它的古樸自然的本來面目, 也不願在上面濫施刀刃。即便是刻印鈕,定要請名家高手,而刻鈕高手也往往惜石如金,挖空心思,他們不忍對之施以透雕(乾隆皇帝的那三枚印章是例外,其實是很大的浪費),而借用浮雕或淺浮雕(薄意)來剔除或掩飾田黃上的疵點,而使原石愈加瑰麗可愛......(楊天亮1995,頁521)








A green and white double-overlay pink glass 'silkworm production' snuff bottle. Li Junting School, probably Yangzhou, 1775–1910. 6.2cm high. Estimate: HK$220,000 - 360,000. photo Bonhams

Footnote: Treasury 5, no. 1008


Smooth as Silk

Translucent white, transparent emerald-green, and translucent pink glass, the green with scattered air bubbles of various sizes; with a flat lip; carved as a double overlay with a continuous scene of silkworms, silk moths, and cocoons set against leafy branches of a mulberry tree
Li Junting school, probably Yangzhou, 1775–1910 (but see commentary below)
Height: 6.2 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.70/1.15 cm
Stopper: gilt silver, with integral finial, chased with a formalized floral design; gilt-silver collar
Condition: some small cut-through bubbles, part of the original process, at lip and one at upper neck filled with dirt; otherwise, in workshop condition

Provenance: S. Marchant & Son, London (1969)
Hugh M. Moss Ltd (1969)
Unrecorded Collector
Drouot, Paris (Millon Jutheau), 2 July 1984, lot 49
Robert Hall (1984)
Chinese Snuff Bottles No. 5, p. 117
Kleiner 1987, no. 123
Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, exhibition poster, October 1987
Arts of Asia, September-October 1990, p. 97, fig 36
Kleiner 1995, no. 166
Next Magazine, March 1997, p. 123
Treasury 5, no. 1008

Exhibited: Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Galeries Lafayette, Paris, April 1990
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May-June 1993
British Museum, London, June-October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July-November 1997

Commentary: We are presently evaluating new evidence suggesting that Li Junting's name is properly read Li Yunting and that he is to be identified as the late-nineteenth-century Yangzhou philanthropist Li Weizhi. See lot 119 in this sale for more details. While waiting for our reassessment to be completed, the reader who wishes to trace some of the many bottles associated with the school or movement in question is invited to peruse the commentary and references under Treasury 5, no. 1008.



李均亭流派,大約作於揚州,1775~1910 (待考;請參看下邊的論述)
高:6.2 厘米
口經/唇經:0.70/1.15 厘米
狀態敘述: 因原來的製作過程,有的微小氣泡被剪斷,唇與頸部上頭有填塵的;此外,作坊狀態

來源:S. Marchant & Son, 倫敦(1969)
Hugh M. Moss, Ltd (1969)
Druout, Millon-Jutheau, 巴黎,1984年7月2日, 賣品號49

文獻﹕Chinese Snuff Bottles No. 5, 頁117
Kleiner 1987, 編號123
Sydney L. Moss Ltd, 倫敦,展覽海報,1987年10月
Arts of Asia, 1990年9月~10月,頁97,圖36
Kleiner 1995, 編號166
Next Magazine, 1997年3 月,頁123
Treasury 5, 編號1008

展覽﹕Sydney L. Moss Ltd, 倫敦, 1987年10 月
Galeries Lafayette, 巴黎,1990年4月
Creditanstalt, 維也納, 1993年5月至6月
大英博物館, 倫敦, 1995年6月~10月
Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷, 1997年7月~11月

說明:因為我們正在分析新的資料,擬定李勻亭、李均亭、李韵亭都是同一個人,而那個人就是十九世紀後期揚州慈善家李維之,對這一流派的看法都要仔細地反思,要重新考慮這個流派的發展。暫且,要探索相關的鼻煙壺、讀讀對它們的現今了解,請參閱Treasury 5,編號1008的論述,此不做贅述。







A Beijing enamel 'basket of flowers' snuff bottle. Imperial, palace workshops, Qianlong blue-enamel mark and of the period, 1736–1770, sold with accompanying watercolour by Peter Suart. 4.22cm high. Estimate: HK$1,800,000 - 3,000,000. photo Bonhams

Footnote: Treasury 6, no. 1079

御製品,宮廷作坊,乾隆年藍楷款, 1736~1770

Basket of Abundance

Famille rose enamels on copper, with gold; with a flat lip and slightly recessed, slightly concave foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim; painted to simulate a basket of flowers, the base of the bottle acting as the woven basket, its upper edge with a band of fylfots (wan symbols) enclosed in circles and the foot of the basket with a diaper pattern of the same motif, the two basket handles on the narrow sides with a separate carrying handle hooked into them, dividing at the shoulders to encircle the neck, each with a tied ribbon on the main side, the basket filled with two peaches growing from an unseen branch, the leaves of which are visible, a bunch of grapes, two Buddha's hand citrons, two plums, a persimmon, and other fruit, with chrysanthemums and daisies, the upper body with a blue-stippled white ground representing the sky; the foot inscribed in blue regular script Qianlong nian zhi (Made during the Qianlong period); the interior covered with a patchy, turquoise-blue enamel; the exposed metal gilt
Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, 1736–1770
Height: 4.22 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.68/1.19 cm
Stopper: gilt bronze; chased with a formalized floral design
Condition: perfect; minor surface scratches and abrasions visible only under magnification. General relative condition: unusually excellent; even the original gilding is largely intact, with only minor wear

Illustration: watercolour by Peter Suart

Provenance: Martin Schoen
Paul and Helen Bernat
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 15 November 1988, lot 79
Moss 1976, plate 27
Arts of Asia, September-October 1990, p. 96
JICSBS, Winter 1992, front cover
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 5
Kleiner 1995, no. 8
Treasury 6, no. 1079

Exhibited: Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
National Museum of Singapore, November 1994–February 1995
British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

Commentary: The subject of a basket of flowers or fruit, or both, was a popular one at the palace workshops during the eighteenth century. It appears on glass snuff bottles that can be attributed to the court starting from the early Qianlong period at the latest (see Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 362, where no. 395 is a spectacular late-Qianlong, double overlay with begonias in a basket). It was also a popular design on the Guyue xuan group of enamelled glass wares from the second half of the Qianlong reign, represented in the Bloch Collection by Treasury 6, no. 1105. Others may be found in the J & J Collection, Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 200; Kleiner 1990, no. 51 (decorated with two baskets, one with the emblems of the Eight Immortals, one with flowers); Chinese Snuff Bottles 6, no. E.7, and JICSBS, Spring 2004, back cover, lower-left, the spectacular example from the Marakovic Collection. Although the design was popular in the Qianlong period, it can be traced back to palace enamelling of the Kangxi reign. One of the enamelled porcelains bowls with floral decoration bearing the mark Kangxi yuzhi (Made by imperial command of the Kangxi emperor) has a group of auspicious flowers contained within a 'basket' of lotus petals, the foot of the bowl painted as a cylindrical segment of the upper stem (Guoli Gugong bowuyuan 1967a, plate 8). It would have been a small leap of the imagination to evolve this design into the popular baskets of flowers of the Qianlong period. The popularity of the subject probably arises from one likely symbolic reading of the basket (lanzi) that may suggest male children (nanzi), one of the three desires dear to the Chinese heart that are embodied in the term Sanduo (Three plenties). These are, Duofu (Plenty of happiness), Duoshou (Plenty of years to live) and Duonanzi (Plenty of male children). The concept can be traced back to the 'Heaven and Earth' chapter in the Zhuangzi, compiled during the Warring States period. The 'Three plenties' or 'Three abundances' are also represented by the Buddha's hand citron, peach, and pomegranate, two of which appear in the basket here. The pomegranate may have been considered superfluous given the similar symbolic meaning of the basket itself, or the inclusion of grapes, which are also a symbol of ample progeny. Longevity is represented by the peach.

It seems technically preferable to enamel both the inner and outer surfaces of any form when painting with enamels on metal. This helps equalize the tensions between the brittle, glassy enamel surface and the metal ground, and with one or two rare exceptions (significantly, experimental wares from early Guangzhou production, such as Treasury 6, no. 1124), enamelled snuff bottles have a coating of enamel inside. Decoratively this is meaningless, since it is all but invisible, even without any snuff in the bottle. Functionally, it could have done little to maintain the qualities of the snuff, since in most cases the interior enamelling is sufficiently patchy that significant areas of metal are left exposed. Covering the interior surface of a snuff bottle with enamel was obviously rather difficult, more difficult than glazing the interior of a larger vessel, and the fact that even flat panels intended to be inserted in furniture or other objects, where their backs would never be seen, are similarly enamelled suggests that it can only have been a technical requirement. Although there are exceptions, as there always are to those 'rules of thumb' in which beginners delight and that experts try to avoid, there is one that may prove a useful, even if not infallible guide to origin: it seems that the majority of eighteenth century Beijing enamel snuff bottles were painted inside with turquoise enamel, while white was used on their Guangzhou counterparts. The occasional late-Qianlong Beijing enamel may flout the rule, as does Treasury 6, no. 1107, but it is a useful one nonetheless.



御製品,宮廷作坊, 1736~1770
高:4.22 厘米
口經/唇經:0.68/1.19 厘米

有彼德小話 (Peter Suart) 水彩畫

來源: Martin Shoen
Paul and Helen Bernat

文獻:Moss 1976, 插圖27
Arts of Asia, 1990年9 月~10月,頁96
《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 1992年冬期,封面
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, 編號5
Kleiner 1995, 編號8
Treasury 6, 編號1079

展覽﹕香港藝術館,1994年3 月~6 月
National Museum of Singapore, 1994年11月~1995年1月
大英博物館, 倫敦, 1995年6月~10 月
Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷, 1997年7~月11月

說明:十八世紀中,籃花、籃水果的圖形是宮廷作坊吃香的內容。最晚推定作為乾隆初的玻璃煙壺就有之(Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, 編號362;同書編號395為乾隆晚期奪目的二層套料籃花煙壺)。乾隆後半期的古月軒玻璃胎畫琺瑯器也常見這類圖形, 如Treasury 6 編號1105;Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, 編號200;Kleiner 1990, 編號51 ;Chinese Snuff Bottles 6, 頁105,編號E.7;《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 200401 春期,封底左下,Marakovic 珍藏的奪目煙壺之一。這個圖形可以追溯到康熙的宮廷作坊琺瑯畫,參照國立故宮博物院1967a,插圖8的"康熙御製"碗,所畫盛放吉祥花朵的蓮瓣"籃"很容易會進展成乾隆期的花籃。

從技術方面來看,金屬胎的琺瑯器還是內壁塗琺瑯好,有助於使易碎的琺瑯面和金屬地的張力相等。除了寥寥幾件的琺瑯煙壺(如廣州早期的試驗器)以外,所有的琺瑯鼻煙壺都是內壁塗琺瑯的。從修飾方面來看,器內的琺瑯當然沒有意義,就是壺裏沒有鼻煙也看不見。從保護鼻煙質量方面來看,也不濟於事﹕小小的煙壺內塗琺瑯,顯然不順手,一般都斑駁不均。借鑒家具畫琺瑯的鑲板雖然板背永不露出但還是塗琺瑯的,我們可以推斷這樣作是技術要求。一種概測法是﹕十八世紀的琺瑯煙壺內壁塗綠松色的北京作的,塗白色的是廣州作的。當然,這並非放之四海而皆準; Treasury 6,編號1107的乾隆晚期北京琺瑯煙壺就是一個例外。