HONG KONG.- Following on from the extraordinary results of Part I and Part II, in which every snuff bottle from the celebrated Mary and George Bloch Collection of Chinese Snuff Bottles has sold, with world records broken in eleven different categories, Part III is eagerly awaited.

Several great collections of snuff bottles 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. The contents of this world famous collection span three centuries of top-level Chinese craftsmanship.

The sale of Part III of the Collection includes 142 snuff bottles, with an overall estimate of HK$25-50million.

Highlights include:

An extremely rare gold-ground ‘famille-rose’ enamelled copper ‘European-subject’ snuff bottle. Qianlong mark and of the period, palace workshops, Beijing, 1770–1779, 5.89cm high. Estimate: HK$3,500,000 - 7,000,000

This outstanding snuff bottle pays testament to the highest quality workmanship produced by Imperial artisans in the Forbidden City during the late Qianlong period. The panels themselves are rare, probably emanating from England, possibly rare tribute offered by Western diplomats, traders or missionaries in the late 18th century. The Emperor was clearly impressed by their quality, and chose to have them set in gold, with the highest quality enamel filling and metal chasing.

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A_gold_ground__famille_rose__enamelled_copper__European_subject__snuff_bottle2

A_gold_ground__famille_rose__enamelled_copper__European_subject__snuff_bottle3

A gold-ground 'famille-rose' enamelled copper 'European-subject' snuff bottle. Imperial, Qianlong incised four-character mark and of the period. Photo: Bonhams

Treasury 6, no. 1112

銅胎畫琺瑯西洋人物鼻煙壺
御製品,刻「乾隆年製」楷款,北京宮廷作坊,1770~1799
(嵌板:歐洲式,或作於英國,約1770~1780)

Polychrome enamels on copper, and cobalt-blue, turquoise-blue, and iron-red enamel on gold; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim; the two main sides with inset European panels, each enamelled on copper and of an identical design of a woman seated in front of foliage and an architectural detail with what appears to be a musical score open on her lap; the gold bottle chased in relief with a formalized floral design on a ring-punched ground; the base with a band of formalized lotus petals, filled with turquoise-blue and iron-red enamel above a footrim of double-unit leiwen ('thunder pattern') design filled with dark blue enamel; the neck with a similar band above a band of formalized lingzhi filled with turquoise-blue enamel; the foot inscribed in engraved, regular script Qianlong nian zhi ('Made during the Qianlong period'). Panels: Europe, possibly England, circa 1770–1780 . Bottle: Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, 1770–1779. Height: 5.89 cm; Mouth/lip: 0.6/1.4 cm; Stopper: gold, chased with a formalized floral design; original. Condition: the rim of the frame with the gilding worn away a little all around, but not obtrusive; minor, usual scratches and abrasions to the panels of enamel, invisible other than under magnification; otherwise, in workshop condition.  Estimate: HK$3,500,000 - 7,000,000, US$ 450,000 - 900,000

Provenance:: Arthur Loveless
Edmund F. Dwyer
Christie's, London, 12 October 1987, lot 161 (front cover illustration)

Published:: Perry 1960, p. 145, no. 158
Architectural Digest, March–April 1972, p. 40
Newsletter, December 1972, p. 22
Stevens 1976, no. 943
JICSBS, Summer 1984, front cover
Christie's International Magazine, September–October 1987, p. 28
Antiques Trade Gazette, 7 November 1987, p. 18
JICSBS, Autumn 1987, p. 2
JICSBS, Winter 1987, p. 27
Christie's Review of the Season, 1988, p. 392
Arts of Asia, September–October 1990, p. 90
Kleiner 1994a, plate 3, bottom left
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 11
Kleiner 1995, no. 14
JICSBS, Autumn 1995, p. 23, fig. 7
Hanhai, Beijing, 1 September 2003, illustration accompanying lot 1966
Chen Tao 2002, p. 7, no. 9
Dai Zhongren 1998, p. 107, no. A084
JICSBS, Autumn 2005, p. 7, figs. 11 and 12
Treasury 6, no. 1112

Exhibited: Los Angeles County Museum, October–November 1984
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: Both the source of the enamel panels and the metal in which they are set have been matters of fluctuating opinion. To Lilla Perry, the mounts were gilt bronze, as they were for Kleiner and most of those earlier publications that did not ignore the issue altogether, including the Christie's auction catalogue. To Bob Stevens, a stickler for testing materials, it was gold – as it was, oddly, in the early newsletter article of 1972; so at some stage, presumably, Dwyer recognized it to be gold. In fact, the immediate frame for the enamelled panels are gilt-bronze, not gold; but the rest of the bottle is solid gold;

The origin of the panels was rarely dealt with in earlier publications. The groundwork simply did not exist to do so at that stage of our research into the field. At one stage the panels were catalogued as eighteenth-century Chinese, while the date of the bottle itself was questioned in a caption dating it as 'eighteenth or nineteenth century' (JICSBS, Winter 1987, p. 27). It is only quite recently that the panels have even been identified as European. Even Christie's, as late as 1987, while noting there semblance of the panels to French work, pointed out the rarity of identical panels in French enamelling and suggested it might have been inspired by a locket cover or snuffbox from France that caused an imperial craftsman at the court to produce two identical copies. In fact, as rare as identical panels may be in French enamelling, they are equally rare in Chinese palace enamelling of the Qianlong period. The style of the European dress might indicate a mid-eighteenth-century date, and we are grateful to Ozvaldo Patrizzi, the leading expert on enamelled watches, for his suggestion that the panels may be English, dating from about 1775 to 1780, but with the caveat that such panels are very much 'one of a kind and rare', making them difficult to identify with confidence.
Related bottles inlaid with European panels are known in gilt bronze, although they are extremely rare. One was in Hanhai, Beijing, 1 September 2003, lot 1966, which was re-offered in Hanhai, Beijing, 12 December 2005, lot 2711. The panel designs are different, but probably from the same workshop, as is the surrounding bottle, which has no inlaid enamels. The style of the Hanhai bottle suggests that it may be depicting the fashions of the mid-eighteenth century, perhaps from about 1740 to about 1765. The original stopper is also of a different shape, with a pronounced finial. The mark is of similar style, although horizontal and not quite as neatly written. There is even a vague chance that it was ordered from Guangzhou. Otherwise, there is related bottle with Chinese panels, their origin uncertain from the illustration, in a gilt bronze surround from the Qianlong period in Fuller 1970, pl. 19, while another with Chinese panels is in the Baur Collection (Stevens 1976, no. 987). Another gilt-bronze bottle with inset enamel panels that may be Chinese is in JICSBS, Autumn 2005, p. 6, fig. 8.

The Qianlong emperor must have been unusually impressed with these particular panels to have set them in gold. The workmanship is extraordinary, with a standard of metal-chasing, enamel filling, and calligraphy unsurpassed in Qing art. There are no other recorded imported panels set in gold; only gilt bronze is used for the rare examples of imported panels being incorporated into other forms of objects, largely confined to a series of small boxes. For an extremely rare cloisonné enamel snuff bottle on a gold ground, now in the Marakovic Collection, see JICSBS, Spring 1987, front cover, top left.

銅胎畫琺瑯西洋人物鼻煙壺

黃金壺身,平唇,平斂底,突出圈足,圈足底完全接觸地面; 兩正面嵌入歐州來的銅胎畫琺瑯洋人肖像 ; 底刻"乾隆年製"楷款
嵌板:歐州式,或作於英國,約1770–1780
壺:御製品,宮廷作坊作,北京,1770–1779
高:5.89 厘米
口經/唇經:0.6/1.4 厘米
蓋: 黃金,鏤刻形式化的花紋;原件

狀態敘述:框緣磨掉了點鎏金,不引人注目,嵌板呈一般性的抓痕與磨耗,肉眼較難察覺;此外,出坊狀態

來源:Arthur Loveless
Edmund F. Dwyer
Christie's, London, 12 October 1987, 拍賣品號 161 (front cover illustration)

文獻:Perry 1960, p. 145, 編號 158
Architectural Digest, March–April 1972, p. 40
Newsletter, December 1972, p. 22
Stevens 1976, 編號 943
JICSBS, Summer 1984, front cover
Christie's International Magazine, September–October 1987, p. 28
Antiques Trade Gazette, 7 November 1987, p. 18
JICSBS, Autumn 1987, p. 2
JICSBS, Winter 1987, p. 27
Christie's Review of the Season, 1988, p. 392
Arts of Asia, September–October 1990, p. 90
Kleiner 1994a, plate 3, bottom left
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, 編號 11
Kleiner 1995, 編號 14
JICSBS, Autumn 1995, p. 23, fig. 7
Hanhai,北京,1 September 2003, illustration accompanying 拍賣品號 1966
Chen Tao 2002, p. 7, 編號 9
Dai Zhongren 1998, p. 107, no. A084
JICSBS, Autumn 2005, p. 7, figs. 11 and 12
Treasury 6, 編號 1112

展覽:Los Angeles County Museum, October–November 1984
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

說明:只有嵌板框子是鎏金銅,此外,壺身全部是黃金。畫琺瑯彩錶專家 Ozvaldo Patrizzi 先生認為,這一對嵌板可能英國作的,可定期為1775~1780,但他也警告,它們是獨一無二的,很不容易鑒定。 同類的西洋嵌板,參閱本壺的英文說明。

A carved ivory ‘Legend of the White Snake’ snuff bottle Imperial Master, Japan, 1854–1910, 6.91cm high. Estimate: HK$300,000 - 600,000

Exquisitely carved in ivory, this depicts a scene from the Legend of the White Snake. This snuff bottle is one of a rare group of similar high quality ivory snuff bottles incised with Qianlong Imperial marks on the base. Throughout the 20th century, these were thought to be Qianlong, but in 2006, the scholar Hugh Moss revealed that the group were actually high quality copies made in the late 19th century by master craftsmen in Japan. However, even as old fakes, this group is still highly collectible due to the high level of quality, so the bottle is still expected to make up to HK$600,000.

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 A_carved_ivory__Legend_of_the_White_Snake__snuff_bottle2

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A carved ivory 'Legend of the White Snake' snuff bottle. Imperial Master, Japan, 1854–1910. Photo: Bonhams

Treasury 7, no. 1675

象牙雕白蛇傳鼻煙壺
仿御製品大師,日本,1854~1910

Ivory; with a flat lip and recessed foot surrounded by a convexfootrim; carved, with some undercutting to leave elements of the design free-standing, with a continuous scene of two canopied boats in a setting of formalized waves with foreground lotus plants and a crane flying amid formalized clouds above, one boat with four figures in it, a boatman at the stern with an oar, another man seated beneath the canopy, a woman holding the upright front struts of the canopy near the prow, and a scholar or official leaning precariously out beside the canopy on one side, reaching towards a dish of what may be fruit held above the head of a demon, whose chest is bare as he wades in the water, while on the other side of the boat a female deity arises from the surface of the waves holding another dish with three objects on it, perhaps intended as flaming pearls, the boat on the other main side with six figures comprising a scholar standing at the stern, a woman clinging to him from behind, a woman sitting cross-legged nearby, the boatman beside her wielding his oar, another scholar seated in the boat, and a standing woman leaning around the canopy post behind him, with a low table in the stern set with a covered box; the base and shoulders each featuring a band of formalized lotus petals; the neck with a band of formalized waves; the foot inscribed in seal script, Qianlong nian zhi (Made during the Qianlong period), in a square cartouche defined by twinned lines  Height: 6.91 cm. Mouth/lip: 0.72/1.7 cm Stopper: ivory, carved in the shape of a melon or gourd; jadeite finial; original.. Estimate: HK$300,000 - 600,000, US$ 39,000 - 77,000

Condition: age cracks in the ivory, one of which has opened up a little more than the rest at the lip; another much wider has opened up across the foot and been subsequently restored and filled, with some subsequent recarving affecting the band of lotus petals and the lotus in the water on both main sides; small further restoration to the sack held across the arm of the scholar in the bow of the boat

Provenance: Frederick W. A. Knight
Sotheby's, London, 9 June 1981, lot 60
Hugh M. Moss Ltd, London (June 1981)
Paula J. Hallett
Hugh M. Moss Ltd, London (1986)

Published:: Snuff Bottle Review, September 1981, p. 12
Art at Auction1982, p. 200
JICSBS, Winter–Spring 1983, p. 25
JICSBS, Autumn 1986, back cover
Kleiner 1987, no. 189
Illustrated London News, Summer 1990, p. 48
Orient Express Magazine, Summer 1990, p. 48
Prestige, Summer 1990, p. 48
Arts of Asia, September–October 1990, p. 91
Kleiner 1995, no. 313
JICSBS, Autumn 2000, front cover
Treasury 7, no. 1675

Exhibited:: Sydney L. Moss Ltd, London, October 1987
British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

Commentary: The design here is typical of the Imperial Master's ivory bottles. The scene on one side is obviously taken from the imperial moulded porcelain bottle of the Jiaqing period represented by Treasury 6, no. 1211, and copied in ivory on Treasury 7, no. 1673, where the subject is identified as being a scene from The Legend of the White Snake. This fact seems to have been lost on the Japanese carver, however, who was apparently ignorant of this well-known Chinese source. Maintaining one of the two female protagonists ofthe legend in exactly the same position as on the moulded porcelain—clutching the uprights of the canopy near the prow of the boat—he has left out the other. At the same time, he has added two men and a boatman manning a long oar. The half-naked demon still stands waist-deep in the water with a plate held aloft on his head, but instead of golden clamshells, it contains what appears to be a neat pyramid of fruit of some kind. The spectators on the nearby bank in the original have been dispensed with entirely, and in their place is a female deity of high rank (judging from the fancy bird ornament in her elaborate coiffure) standing on the waves holding a dish of what may be intended as three flaming pearls (it is, of course, often impossible to accurately identify subject matter when it was originally misunderstood by the carver). The crane flying above, although indicative of Daoist immortals in general and of Xiwangmu (the Queen Mother of the West) in particular, is also an addition with no source in the original subject. On the other side is a second boat that seems to have no identifiable counterpart among porcelain bottles, but does appear elsewhere on this group of ivories. In the J & J Collection there are two of very similar subject, although, as always with this group, the details of the composition vary with each bottle (Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, nos. 285 and 286). Another, rather more accurate, ivory version of the original moulded porcelain bottle is in the Denis Low Collection (Kleiner 1999, no. 214, also in Chinese Snuff Bottles No. 5, p. 50, fig. 16, and Kleiner 1997, no. 143). Even there, whereas the scene on one side faithfully follows the porcelain original, that on the other side does not. One constant is the scholar at one end of the boat with a woman clinging to his arm, although details of the boats and the number of other figures and the positions of the boatman or boatmen differ. On moulded porcelain bottles, the only other examples that involved single large boats are either the scene of Su Shi beneath the Red Cliff (Treasury 6, no. 1212) or one showing a group of eight tribute bearers, three of whom are on a canopied boat on one main side (Chinese Snuff Bottles No. 5, p. 51, figs. 18 and 19).

Once we have identified this group as Japanese, there are so many clues pointing to such a conclusion that it seems remarkable that we did not notice them earlier. Here again, the mark is oddly drawn and, in common with others of this group, is adapted to the markings in the ivory, either the nerve centre of the tusk or cracks in the material.The top of the mark nearly touches the footrim while a gap is left between the bottom of the mark and the other side of the footrim. The carver refrained from stretching the mark horizontally to cover the darker ivory to its left, but already he has compromised the mark beyond what we would expect from the palace workshops.

Age cracks, which develop over the centuries in old ivory carvings, are a feature of the Imperial Ivory Master's works that suggest he treated the raw material to make it look older. It is likely that he cooked it; sometimes he may have stained it a little as well, to suggest acquired patina. The process of heating ivory to age it leaves cracks in the material, often in the form of a pattern of small, intricate crizzling. At the palace workshops, such crizzled material would not have been used for miniature carvings in the first place. If we examine the other superbly carved ivory pieces in the imperial collection made during the Qianlong reign, it is obvious that purity of material was a criterion. Any minor cracking has happened since. The type of ivory preferred at court for small carvings was creamy-white, pure, and free of age cracks.

象牙雕白蛇傳鼻煙壺

象牙;平唇,斂底,凸圈足 ;底刻雙行四字"乾隆年製"篆款,並加雙框
仿御製品大師,日本, 1854–1910
高:6.91 厘米
口經/唇經:0.72/1.7 厘米
蓋: 象牙, 雕瓜形; 翡翠頂飾; 原件

狀態敘述: 象牙呈裂璺,唇上開了一道比較大的;底部的裂口已經修補了,因而兩正面的蓮花和蓮瓣紋有所重刻;在船頭站著的學士手上所帶的囊也呈微小的修復

來源:Frederick W. A. Knight
Sotheby's, London, 9 June 1981, 拍賣品號 60
Hugh M. Moss Ltd, London (June 1981)
Paula J. Hallett
Hugh M. Moss Ltd, London (1986)

文獻:Snuff Bottle Review, September 1981, p. 12
Art at Auction 1982, p. 200
JICSBS, Winter–Spring 1983, p. 25
JICSBS, Autumn 1986, back cover
Kleiner 1987, 編號 189
Illustrated London News, Summer 1990, p. 48
Orient Express Magazine, Summer 1990, p. 48
Prestige, Summer 1990, p. 48
Arts of Asia, September–October 1990, p. 91
Kleiner 1995, 編號 313
JICSBS, Autumn 2000, front cover
Treasury 7, 編號 1675

展覽:Sydney L. Moss Ltd, London, October 1987
British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

說明:此壺一正面的圖景顯然是模仿嘉慶模製陶瓷煙壺的一種,Treasury 6, 編號 1211, 就是一個例子。題材是《白蛇傳》,而日本的牙匠不知道題材來歷,圖中有很多不可解釋的變化 。

仿御製品牙雕大師大概是用煙燻作舊的,因而他的作品經常布滿細小的裂縫;在宮廷作坊,呈微裂紋的牙材 一般不會被採用。
 
A ‘famille-rose’ enamelled porcelain moonflask ‘landscape’ snuff bottle attributed to Tang Ying, Imperial kilns, Jingdezhen. Qianlong seal mark and of the period, 1736–1756, 5.08cm high. HK$2,000,000 - 4,000,000

This epitomises the highest quality output of the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen. Manufactured under the personal supervision of Tang Ying, the director of the Imperial kilns, the snuff bottle is in pristine condition, suggesting that it was never used but kept as a treasured item in the Imperial collection. The exquisite landscape shows a scene of autumn on one side, and winter on the other.
 
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A 'famille-rose' enamelled porcelain moonflask 'landscape' snuff bottle. Attributed to Tang Ying, Imperial kilns, Jingdezhen, Qianlong iron-red four-character seal mark and of the period, 1736–1756. Photo: Bonhams
 
Treasury 6, no. 1148

瓷胎畫粉彩山水月琴形鼻煙壺
推定為唐英作,景德鎮官窯,鐵紅「乾隆年製」篆款,1736~1756

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 panels on each main side painted with waterside landscape scenes, one main side of one bottle with an autumn scene where three figures ride in three skiffs on a river between banks growing with reeds, with an open pavilion on the near bank and a flight of wild geese in the distance, the other main side with a summer scene featuring a square structure on a raised platform that is joined to the waterside terrace on which it sits by steps built out from both its visible sides, the terrace approached by a stone bridge across a river to the right and nestled against mountains and trees to the left, with two scholars standing by the fence of the terrace while another crosses the bridge towards them, two houses visible among the trees of the river bank beyond him; the panels of the bottle surrounded by a diaper design of interlocking fylfots (wan symbols); the necks 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  Heights: 5.08 cm. Mouths/lips: 0.7/1.09 and 0.7/1.11 cm. Stoppers: ivory; original. Estimate: HK$2,000,000 - 4,000,000, US$ 260,000 - 510,000

Condition: kiln condition; one careless dab of gold enamel in the mark done when the foot was painted in gold enamel
 
Provenance: Robert Hall (1995)

Published: Hall 1995, no. 1
Robert Hall, business Christmas card, 1995
Sin, Hui, and Kwong, nos. 94 and 95
Arts of Asia, March–April 1997, p. 146, fig 94
Treasury 6, no. 1148
JICSBS, Spring 2009, p. 9, fig. 9

Exhibited: The Tsui Museum

Commentary See Sale 1, lot 27. This is the mate to that bottle.

瓷胎畫粉彩山水月琴 形鼻煙壺

瓷胎無色釉上畫粉彩;凸唇,平斂底,突出圈足,弄平的圈足;鐵紅"乾隆年製"篆款 ;唇、頸內壁、圈足皆塗金,內壁施釉
推定為唐英作,景德鎮官窯,1736–1756
Heights: 5.08 厘米
Mouths/lips: 0.7/1.09 及0.7/1.11 厘米
Stoppers:其象牙;原件

狀態敘述:出窯狀態,塗金琺瑯料時,年款中脫落了一斑點的金彩

來源:Robert Hall (1995)

文獻:Hall 1995, 編號 1
Robert Hall, business Christmas card, 1995
Sin, Hui, and Kwong, 編號94 and 95
Arts of Asia, March–April 1997, p. 146, fig 94
Treasury 6, 編號 1148
JICSBS, Spring 2009, p. 9, fig. 9

展覽: The Tsui Museum

說明
請參閱第一場拍賣會,拍賣品號 27,那件和本壺是一對。
 
Auction: 25 May at 10am

Public Viewing : 23 May from 1pm to 9pm - 24 May from 10am to 9pm

Venue: Island Ballroom, Island Shangri-La Hotel, Admiralty; Hong Kong