An Overview of Qing Glass

25 (Yinxiang) who was in charge of the Zaobanchu or Palace Workshops. In order to curry favor with his brother he issued an order instructing that from that day forward all the workshops were to produce some small handicraft work and present them in time for the Duanwuji [Dragon Boat Festival], Wanshoujie [Emperor ’ s birthday] and Nianjie [New Year Festival]. 24 In 1738 the Qianlong Emperor ordered the Imperial lapidary workshops to produce thirty-five snuff bottles, which, according to Xia Gengqi, took over two years to complete. 25 They were presumably the more complicated cameo overlays, since it seems inconceivable that thirty-five plain glass bottles could take so long to make. In the same year fifty more snuff bottles were ordered, all to be fitted with gilt- bronze stoppers. 26 From the Qianlong period there are many more records of the production of glass snuff bottles, all of which are included in the chronological list of primary sources, which accompanies the Bloch glass volume. Peter Lam sampled only a small fraction of the vast quantity of records for the Qianlong period, and just under a thousand snuff bottles are noted which, together with the five hundred we know were made in 1755, brings the number up to one thousand four hundred and fifty-five bottles. 27 This is far from the total for the sixty-year reign. Only part of the records for only twenty-eight of the sixty-year reign were examined, so the eventual output will prove to be much higher. At the beginning of the Qianlong reign two European missionaries skilled in glassmaking joined the court, Gabriel-Léonard de Brossard (Ji Wen, 1703–1758) and Pierre Noël Le Chéron d ’ Incarville (Tang Zhizhong, 1706–1757). Although de Bossard was probably the more skilled glassmaker, the two seem to have worked together on and off, and d ’ Incarville in his Catalogue Alphabétique (thought to have been completed by 1748 28 ) refers to his early, unsuccessful attempts to make aventurine glass. The most likely date of d ’ Incarville ’ s unsuccessful attempts is the early part of 1741. He arrived at Guangzhou only in October 1740, and would have had to journey to Beijing and settle in before receiving orders from the Emperor. The records show that he was successful in making aventurine glass at some time prior to the third month of 1741, and in the same year, the Emperor took advantage of what we may assume was the first successful local manufacture of aventurine glass by ordering sixteen snuff bottles to be made with gold splashes in black, green or blue glass; they took over three months to complete, giving us a more accurate account of how long a specific type of bottle took to produce. 29 We are on much stronger ground in identifying the type of bottle made under this Imperial order. We have already seen an early gold-splashed blue glass bottle ( fig. 9 ), and there are many others known, while figures 32–34 represent the rarer black ground version (although it should be said that the ground, while appearing black, seldom is, and is revealed as a very dark, translucent emerald-green or even reddish color with transmitted light). Figures 32 and 34 are both inscribed with a four-character Qianlong reign mark. A rare version with a bluish-green ground is known, although inscribed with a studio name rather than a reign mark Fig. 36. Transparent turquoise-green glass bottle with gold splashes, 1720–1780. ( fig. 35 ), and figure 36 is a translucent turquoise-green glass with gold splashes, although other colors are also rolled onto the surface in this case. It is also reign marked ( fig. 36 ) , but in this case with a seal-script mark rather than the frequently found, wheel-cut, regular script mark. The black ground bottles can possibly be associated with the order of 1741, and help to identify another group of bottles as from the early Qianlong period, represented by figures 37 and 38 . This helps to identify a range of shapes as being typical of the period, and there are quite a few Figs. 37. Plain bluish-green glass bottle and four-character Qianlong mark on the base. Fig. 38. Brown and beige glass bottle with Qianlong mark on the base.