Lot 577. A famille rose-enameled white glass snuff bottle, signed Wu Yuchuan, 1767-1799. Estimate USD 12,000 - USD 18,000. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2016.
The opaque glass bottle is decorated with flowering chrysanthemum and aster growing around a blue rock, with two seals in red reading shan gao ('as tall as the mountains’) and Wu Yuchuan, and a small leaf-shape seal. The base is painted with an illegible three-character mark.2.15/16 in. (7.2 cm.) high, pink tourmaline stopper
Provenance: Galerie Bertrand de Lavergne, Paris, 2011.
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd., Hong Kong, 2011.
Ruth and Carl Barron Collection, Belmont, Massachusetts, no. 5238.
Notes: Enameled glass snuff bottles with the signature Wu Yuchuan are discussed by the authors Moss, Graham, Tsang, in A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, the Mary and George Bloch Collection, Volume 6, Part I, Hong Kong, 2008, pp. 195-198, where it is noted that this group has connections to the ‘Hu Xuan’ group and the Guyue Xuan group as a whole. While the ‘Hu Xuan’ group appears to a name derived from Guyue Xuan, and not an individual, Wu Yuchuan was an enameler who most likely began his training in around 1767 in the palace (ibid., p. 197). Based on signed examples of his work, he appears to have been active, probably at court, during the second half of the Qianlong reign.
The seals on this bottle, Wu Yuchuan and shan gao, also appear on other bottles by the artist, including a blue-glass example from the Mary and George Bloch Collection, which also bears a Guyue Xuan mark on the base (see ibid., p. 195, no. 1092). Shan gao (‘As tall as the mountains’) is a popular wish for longevity and happiness, and also appears in association with other imperial inscriptions on Qianlong-period painted enamel wares. Sometimes a third seal, zhong he (‘Central Peace’) appears on Wu’s bottles, such as on two examples from the J&J Collection, Part V, sold at Christie’s New York, 17 September 2008, lots 17 and 75. For a full discussion of the artist and his connections to the palace see H. Moss, “Mysteries of the Ancient Moon,”JICSBS, Spring 2006, pp. 23-27, where a number of his signed bottles are illustrated.
Wu Yuchuan’s works are characterized by the inclusion of lotus blossoms on his earlier bottles, a simplified color palette, and the addition of seals, inscriptions and his signature, and occasionally a Guyue Xuan or Qianlong mark. The composition of the present bottle is somewhat unusual within Wu Yuchuan’s known pieces. Instead of lotus flowers beneath a decorative border, chrysanthemums and aster flowers grow from a blue rock and are balanced by the two red seals, as well as a red leaf-shaped seal above that was also used by the artist. A similar combination of flowers can be found on another Wu Yuchan bottle illustrated in ibid., fig. 23, p. 25 (lower right).
Christie's. The Ruth and Carl Barron Collection of Fine Chinese Snuff Bottles: Part III, 14 September 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza