A well-carved carnelian agate snuff bottle, 1780-1850

A well-carved carnelian agate snuff bottle, 1780-1850. Estimate $12,000 – $18,000. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2015

The bottle is well carved in substantial relief through the reddish areas of the stone with lingzhi-shaped clouds that rise from the base up to the flat shoulder framing a small reddish marking in the stone on one side resembling the sun. 2 1/8 in. (5.4 cm.) high, glass stopper

Provenance: Harry H. Ross, London.
SB Collection, England.
Robert Hall, London, 2011.
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd., Hong Kong, 2012.
Ruth and Carl Barron Collection, Belmont, Massachusetts, no. 5331.

LiteratureH. Moss, Chinese Snuff Bottles of the Silica or Quartz Group, London, 1971, p. 17, no. 32.
R. Hall, The SB Collection, Chinese Snuff Bottles XV, 2011, no. 4.

NotesThis type of bright red and white carnelian agate, also known as sardonyx, can be found on a small number of skillfully carved snuff bottles. See, Moss, Graham Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, The J & J Collection, Hong Kong, 1993, p. 258, no. 162, for a goldfish-form bottle, where the authors note, "This distinctive type of rich coral-red and white carnelian seems to have been hardly used before the Qing dynasty - although carnelian beads of a distinctly different appearance are known from archaic sites. Several other objects are known, most of small size (although not all as small as a snuff bottle), which could reasonably be dated to the mid-Qing period, but as a rule the nineteenth century seems a more likely period to which to attribute them. The material may have been imported from abroad. It is an extremely effective stone with its bright contrasts...As a rule the distinctly separate colours are used to perform fairly obvious design functions.”

A related bottle of this material of pebble form carved with chilong from the Rachel Holden Collection was sold at Christie’s New York, 21 March 2000, lot 168.

Christie's. THE RUTH AND CARL BARRON COLLECTION OF FINE CHINESE SNUFF BOTTLES: PART I, 16 September 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza