Published: November 29, 2011
A famille rose enameled glass snuff bottle from the imperial Qianlong palace workshops sold for $3,328,400 on November 28, setting a new world record for a Chinese snuff bottle. The auction of the celebrated Mary and George Bloch collection: Part IV, took place at the Island Shangri-La Hotel.
The tiny, yet exquisite famille rose enameled glass “European-subject” snuff bottle made in the imperial palace workshops in Beijing during the Emperor Qianlong period (1736‱795) measures only a little more than 3 inches high. It carried an estimate of $625,000․1.1 million. International bidders in the packed auction room and on the telephone battled the bidding up to the lot’s final figure, which represents more than five times its presale estimate. This unique survivor of imperial craftsmanship sold to an Asian collector who bid on the telephone.
The sale set a new world record for any Chinese snuff bottle, beating Bonhams own record, established only 18 months ago when another Chinese snuff bottle achieved $1.1 million.
The example sold in the November 28 auction was the largest snuff bottle of all recorded imperial palace enamels on glass, and is set apart by the distinctly European, elaborate trompe l’oeil frames around all four panels. The main panels depict elegant European ladies, while the subsidiary ones are of Chinese landscapes. This snuff bottle reflects considerable European characteristics, representative of the historical period it was made.
The influence of the missionaries in the court arts of glassmaking and enameling (particularly on metal and glass, which were arts introduced from the West) was significant during the first half of the Eighteenth Century. When this bottle was made, European and Chinese court artists worked side by side at the imperial palace workshops.
A complete review or the sale will appear in a future issue of Antiques and The Arts Weekly.
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