Season Year

Fig. 25. A famille-rose enameled white glass snuff bottle. Signed Wu Yuchuan, 1767–1799. Fig. 26. A rare embellished blue glass snuff bottle. Probably Imperial Palace Workshops, Beijing, 1780–1850. 32 curiously chewing on a cloth that hangs from her mouth and is described in the catalogue as “ the sleeve cuff in her mouth. ” What this depicts was not fully explained! More important, however, is the seal of the artist Wu Yuchuan, an enameler who most likely began his training around 1767 in the palace. Based on signed examples of his work, he appears to have been active during the second half of the Qianlong reign. With a low estimate of $8,000, the bottle sold to an Internet bidder in California against another Internet bidder in Hong Kong at the relatively low price of $6,250. As if to hit home with the old adage “ condition is everything, ” another bottle by the same enameler, but in a much better state of preservation, almost tripled its presale low estimate of $12,000 (lot 577, fig. 25 ). This example is of tall cylindrical shape and painted in a continuous scene with flowering chrysanthemums and asters rising from blue rockwork. As in the previous cited bottle, it has two iron red seals reading shan go (As tall as the mountains) and “ Wu Yuchuan. ” An anonymous telephone bidder fought a lengthy battle against a bid left on the auctioneer ’ s book before finally winning out at $30,000. Perhaps the most intriguing bottle at the sale, and among the rarest, was an embellished blue glass snuff bottle with delicately applied mother-of-pearl design on raised oval panels on each main face, on one side with a magpie perched in a prunus spray rising from rocks, on the reverse with a butterfly amid leafy foliage (lot 537, fig. 26 ). The applied shell was also finely engraved, to enhance the decoration, and layered in differing depths, to produce a magical, shimmering effect from light shining through the diaphanous material. It elicited much attention, with brisk bidding in the room, on the Internet, and at the long bank of telephones. It had previously sold at Sotheby ’ s for $17,250 in the famous 1997 sale of the Gerry P. Mack Collection. This time, it sold for more than double that, going to Robert Hall at $35,000. Endnotes 1 Hugh Moss, Victor Graham, and Ka Bo Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles: The Mary and George Bloch Collection, vol. 7, pt. 2, Organic, Metal, Mixed Media (Hong Kong: Herald International, 2009), 65–66. 2 Robert Hall, Chinese Snuff Bottles III (London, 1990), no. 46. 3 Denis S. K. Low, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Sanctum of Enlightened Respect III (Singapore: Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore, 2007) , 253, no. 220; Clare Lawrence, Miniature Masterpieces from the Middle Kingdom: The Monimar Collection of Chinese Snuff Bottles (London: Zhenliu Xuan Publishing Co., 1996) , 214–15, no. 101; Rachelle R. Holden, Rivers and Mountains Far from the World (New York: Rachelle R. Holden, 1994) , 244–45, no. 106. Doris P. S. Lee, ed., Dr. Marcos C. P. Tang Collection of Chinese Snuff Bottles (Hong Kong, 1993) , pl. 1.29.