There is a snuff-bottle I have held back from my Bloch and Bloch post. And it is this.
Bonham’s describes it:
Nephrite of pebble material; well hollowed with an irregular flat lip; carved as a continuous rock formation with a flowering orchid growing from one crag. 1740-1850.
The cracks in the piece were in the original pebble. Instead of smoothing them out, the artist preserved them. He thought they were beautiful.
My favorite view of this piece is this: lying on its side (as it was designed to be stored), as if it got tired — or perhaps drunk — and wanted to lie down.
You can almost hear the sigh of relief as it lies down after all this preening around on stage.
Your reporter has been a passionate follower of snuff-bottle art ever since he has acquired a few pieces himself in Malaysia, some 5 years ago. He has since discovered that it is a pretty large hobby with pretty intense participants, its own society, its own famed museums, and — fairly frequent major auctions. But nothing he has seen so far has prepared him for this: the auction of the Bloch and Bloch collection. Wow.
This has been carved in bamboo root:
This bottle was made of amber sometime between 1760 and 1820. In 1969 a Chinese inside-painter-master (see my upcoming post on him) Wang Xisan painted it inside:
This one was carved in coral:
This one is porcelain:
This one attempts to get away from the usual shiny porcelain glaze by showing that mottled and dull can also work (it does):
This one imitates western art — one isn’t sure whether this is meant to be flattery:
And this one was carved out of a wall-nut (except for the jade stopper, carved in the shape of a hand holding a peach):
And here is something rare — and fun: a Japanese (Meiji Era) snuff-bottle!