An Overview of Qing Glass

26 Fig. 100. White overlay on a sapphire-blue ground craved to illustrate a chi dragon on each side. economically and fine quality glass carving was encouraged once more, to continue to the end of the dynasty. Under the frugal hand of the Jiaqing Emperor, the output of glass from the Imperial glassworks had been reduced in 1820 to one hundred and sixty pieces a year in total. 50 This quota changed from time to time, but never came near to equaling the expansive production of the Qianlong period with its often thousands of pieces produced in a single year. In 1837, for instance, the usual annual quantity had become one hundred and eighty- one glass items and one hundred and twenty snuff bottles. 51 A portrait of the Daoguang Emperor ( fig. 102 ) probably from around the mid reign shows him with two glass overlay snuff bottles, one obviously decorated with the ubiquitous chi dragons so popular on courtly objects. 52 We cannot assume, however, that these were made during the Daoguang reign. They are set in front of a vase which appears to be enamel on metal and is probably from the Kangxi period, so the bottles are probably earlier as well. This portrait seems to represent no more than a trend for valuing earlier bottles. From about the same time, during the Daoguang reign, comes further evidence of this shift in emphasis from continued evolution of the art form to treating its earlier manifestations as worthy of collecting, a process undoubtedly already prevalent during the Qianlong reign, but which led during the nineteenth century to the first noticeable waves of deliberate faking. The scholar, Shen Yu, who died in 1851, published Qiuyin zaji [Miscella- neous Jottings Made in the Fig. 102. Daoguang Emperor portrayed with two glass overlay snuff bottles. Fig. 101. White overlay on a sapphire-blue ground carved with a chi dragon on each side.