Season Year

Fig. 22. A white overlay pink glass snuff bottle, 1770–1850. Fig. 24. A famille-rose enameled glass snuff bottle. Imperial Palace Workshops, Beijing, seal of Wu Yuchuan, 1767–1799. Fig. 23. A red overlay clear glass fish- form snuff bottle. Probably Imperial Palace Workshops, 1750–1830. 31 was soon triple that. It appeared that the hammer was about to fall to a telephone bidder when a Chinese gentleman strolled nonchalantly into the auction room, bidding as he strode along at the back of the audience. All heads turned to watch him, as he kept his bidding arm up until the telephones fell silent. It seemed appropriate that this mysterious figure should end up purchasing this spellbinding bottle. The auctioneer cried sold at $23,750 A russet and yellow jade bottle assigned to the Master of the Rocks school also well exceeded its presale mid-range estimate of $3,000 (lot 429, fig. 20 ). Hall fought valiantly for ownership, but he was pipped at the post by an anonymous telephone bidder at $13,750. Of rounded rectangular shape, the bottle was delicately carved in low relief with confronted archaistic dragons on each face, possibly suggesting a long (dragon) character, and with high- relief chilong forming the handles on the narrow sides, a feature common to the school, as is the use of a two- colored stone. Another worthy bottle (lot 437, fig. 21 ), not immediately recognizable as such due to the subtlety of the pebble-form amber material it is carved from, caught the eye of a number of interested parties. Of a lustrous, semi-transparent deep orange hue, it was carved in a continuous scene with boys at play amid bamboo and lotus. Gerd Lester had previously owned the bottle. It belongs to a distinctive group of irregular or pebble-shaped amber bottles that may all be the product of the same workshop. The subjects depicted often have a similar Daoist or scholarly theme. It is thus possible that a particular workshop, perhaps part of a Daoist community, was the leading producer and its members found the mystical qualities of the “ fossilized ” resin material somehow in balance or accordance with their own alchemical leanings. The bottle sold to an anonymous telephone bidder at $5,000 against interest from Singapore and Hong Kong as relayed via an Internet link. A stunning, pink ground with white overlay glass bottle more than doubled its low estimate of $6,000 (lot 452, fig. 22 ). Strong bidding from an Internet participant in Pennsylvania against a staff member, Margie Gristina, in the room, presumably with a late left bid (which did not make it into the auctioneer ’ s book), and against Moss, also in the room, pushed the final price to $16,250. It was hammered down to the Internet bidder. In what could easily have been a rather cluttered design in the hands of a lesser artist, eight Buddhist symbols vie for space on a relatively small surface area. The elements were masterfully manipulated to produce a remarkably ordered, balanced, and incredibly spacious design. Another glass bottle, in the form of a fish, was hooked by an eager anonymous bidder at the reasonable sum of $5,625 (lot 489, fig. 23 ). Appearing to stand on the fish tail, as if breaking the surface of a lotus pond in an energetic leap, the bottle was subtly carved through a transparent red overlay to a clear glass ground, with individual scales over the body and a curling lotus leaf to one side. It almost certainly depicts a carp ( liyu ), though it might possibly represent a catfish ( nianyu ) given the whiskers around the mouth. The Chinese characters for carp and profit share the same sound, as do the characters for the words fish ( yu ) and affluence . Thus, if the bottle were presented as a gift, the recipient would understand the double meaning. The placing of sensible reserves by the auctioneer allowed for some bottles to sell well below their estimated ranges. A good example of this is a Guyue Xuan–type enameled opaque white glass bottle (lot 526, fig. 24 ) bearing the seal of Wu Yuchuan and attributed to the Beijing Imperial Palace Workshops of the late eighteenth century. It also carries a more rarely seen Da Qing nianzhi mark (Made in Great Qing), in iron red, on the base. Unfortunately, the lengthy inscription on one side was heavily rubbed, and this most certainly was the primary reason for the muted interest (and the low reserve). The decoration includes an elegant lady in a fabric-draped chamber, rather