A carved aquamarine snuff bottle, 1750-1795. Possibly Imperial, attributed to the Palace workshops, Beijing. photo courtesy Sotheby's .

of slender tapering rectangular form, with shoulders sloping to a waisted neck, and supported on a concave oval foot, finely carved in low relief with archaistic motifs of confronting qilong, a taotie mask at the center of each face, the striated crystal of an even sky-blue color; height 2 3/4 in., 6.9 cm. Estimate 25,000—35,000 USD. Lot Sold 59,375 USD

PROVENANCE: Phillips London, 8th June 1994, lot 405.

NOTE: The present bottle, with its elegant shape and sophisticated carving, is characteristic of 18th century Imperial style. While the 19th century experienced a surge in demand for semi-precious stones such as aquamarine, a small group was made in the late 18th century, as evidenced by the 1799 inventory of Heshen, the prime minister to the Qianlong emperor, who collected over 1,400 hardstone snuff bottles, of which 300 were said to be gem-stone examples.

A similarly tall and slender bottle, carved with Shoulao, is illustrated in Robert Kleiner, Chinese Snuff Bottles: The White Wings Collection, Hong Kong, 1997, pl. 134, p. 194. Another bottle, carved with naturalistic depictions of dragon and phoenix among peonies, was sold in these rooms, 25th October 1997, lot 106 and is currently in The Crane Collection.

Sotheby's. The Joe Grimberg Collection of Chinese Snuff Bottles, 14 Sep 10, New York www.sothebys.com