Lot 23. A fine reticulated turquoise-glazed snuff bottle, Daoguang seal mark and of the period (1821-1850); 6.5cm (2 1/2in) high. Estimate HK$80,000 - 120,000 (€9,700 - 15,000)Sold for HK$ 181,250 (€ 21,533). Photo: Bonhams.

The ovoid body covered in a turquoise glaze, with pierced decoration featuring a dragon and a phoenix chasing after the flaming pearl amidst billowing clouds and above raging waves, all beneath two bands of key-fret scrolls and ruyi-heads at the neck, the base carved with a four-character seal mark, stopper. 

ProvenanceAcquired from Claire Lawrence (Chu), 1980s, by repute

NoteThe present lot is in direct continuation of the preceding reign as demonstrated in two related turquoise-glazed snuff bottles: one from the Mary and George Bloch collection, illustrated by H.Moss, V.Graham and K.B.Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles: The Mary and George Bloch Collection, Vol.6, Arts of the Fire, Hong Kong, 2008, pp.460-463, nos.1206 and 1207, which were subsequently sold in these rooms, 23 November 2010, lot 96 and 25 May 2011, lot 96. See also a turquoise-glazed snuff bottle, 1796-1820, from the Paul Braga collection, sold in these rooms, 24 November 2012, lot 39. 

It is believed that such carved porcelain snuff bottles may have been inspired by their imperial ivory counterparts. Monochrome glazes of varying colours were used to imitate various raw materials such as cinnabar lacquer, lapis lazuli and turquoise. However, early examples of ceramic bottles imitating turquoise are dated to the Qianlong period and are usually subtly enamelled with black lines. Although moulded porcelain bottles in monochrome colours with dragon and phoenix design were prevalent during the Jiaqing period, Daoguang mark and period examples are rare. 

The motif of a dragon and phoenix, symbolising the emperor and empress, presents the happy wish for conjugal bliss 龍鳳呈祥 longfeng chengxiang. Objects with this image, such as the present snuff bottle, were highly appropriate wedding gifts.