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A sapphire-blue glass 'peaches' snuff bottle ('Imperial Peach'). Treasury 5, no. 839. Imperial glassworks, Beijing, 1730–1790. Photo Bonhams

Transparent sapphire-blue glass with a few scattered small air bubbles, with a flat lip and flat foot; carved with a continuous design of a severed, leafy branch with two peaches growing from it. Height: 5.1 cm. Mouth/lip: 0.56/1.5 cm. Stopper: tourmaline; gilt-silver collar.

Condition: insignificant miniscule nibbles to inner lip; lip probably repolished at some time, and, given the lack of wear, the rest of the bottle may also have been repolished. General relative condition: extremely good  Sold for HK$132,000

藍寶石色玻璃桃紋鼻煙壺. 北京御用玻璃作坊,1730~1790

Provenance::  Private collection, Brazil
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., Hong Kong (1997)

Published:: Treasury 5, no. 839

Commentary: Although the peach shape of the bottle may be less than obvious, the small fruit on the severed branch is foliated with leaves typical of the peach tree, seen also on a nephrite brush washer in the National Palace Museum, for example. Although this design is rare in glass, another exists in yellow glass (suggesting a link with the court), several in white nephrite, and even one in tourmaline. The existence of a group of bottles, all of the same type but fashioned from different materials, with the same subject and of similar style, suggests a multi-skills environment such as the palace workshops, while the yellow glass example bears testimony to their imperial nature. While this would not completely rule out the possibility of hardstone bottles being carved for the court at a centre such as Suzhou, it seems unlikely, given the range of materials and the ready availability of local facilities for their production near the court.

This sapphire-blue glass, brilliant and pure, is typical of the finest from the imperial glassworks but exhibits no hint of crizzling, suggesting that it is neither from the Yongzheng period nor earlier. For the entire range of these peach bottles, in fact, a Qianlong date is suggested. It seems likely that very popular types, particularly plain bottles, might have been repeated over a long period, but specific designs such as this may have been shorter-lived.

藍寶石色玻璃桃紋鼻煙壺

透明藍寶石藍玻璃,零星的小氣泡,平,平底
北京御用玻璃作坊,1730-1790
高:5.1 厘米
口經/唇經:0.56/1.5 厘米
蓋: 碧璽; 鎏金銀座

狀態敘述:唇內沿呈微不足道的咬痕;唇大概是重新拋光過的,看壺身沒有磨耗痕跡,可能是全部重新拋光過。一般相對的狀態: 極善

來源: Private collection, Brazil
Hugh M. Moss Ltd., Hong Kong (1997)

文獻:Treasury 5, 編號 839

說明: 本壺的桃形不太明顯,但雕出來的小果實及葉子就是桃式的,可參見台北故宮收藏的桃式玉筆洗。黃色玻璃的例子也有,還有白玉的,甚至碧璽的。

Bonhams. FINE CHINESE ART, 25 May 2011 to 26 May 2011, Hong Kong, Island Shangri-La Hotel www.bonhams.com