Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

8 Selected Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston This small selection was made by Elizabeth Jarvis and Hugh Moss at the Boston Convention in September 2008. Photographs and information were provided by the museum, while the captions and commentaries have been prepared by Hugh Moss. 1. Enameled porcelain; the foot inscribed in illiterate iron-red seal script 大製 Da zhi. Jingdezhen, 1780– 1830. Height with stopper: 2 ¬ in. (6.7 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Mrs. George Washington Wales, 1895 (95.742). The strange mark here has been identified by Peter Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. It is a token reign mark written by an illiterate potter, from left to right, taking the first and last characters of a standard, six-character, Qing reign mark 大 da of 大清 Da Qing (Great Qing dynasty) and 製 zhi of 年製 nian zhi (Made in the year of…), although the latter character is missing its 衣 yi (cloth) radical. The shape of the bottle is typical of a range of mid-Qing imperial porcelain bottles bearing either Qianlong or Jiaqing reign marks and the design of a lantern hanging from a beaded cord is otherwise known from the period. These beaded cord designs are found on bottles made for the court during the late Qianlong period. The first recognizable range of fakes of Qianlong (and Yongzheng) porcelain snuff bottles does not seem to have been produced until the Daoguang period (1821–1850), when collectors began to seek out old bottles. However, when such wares were made as fakes, it would have been pointless to have a virtually illegible, token reign mark on them and late Qing and Republican fakes all have reasonably legible reign marks. This is far more likely to be a genuine, mid-Qing porcelain bottle, perhaps made for a private market by a Jingdezhen pottery. The acquisition prior to 1895 by Mrs. Wales rules out, of course, a Republican date of manufacture. 2. Enameled porcelain; inscribed in black regular script with the title of the subject 孟母三遷 Mengmu sanqian (Mother Meng Moves Three Times), the foot inscribed in iron-red seal script 道光年製 Daoguang nian zhi (Made during the Daoguang period). Jingdezhen, 1821–1850. Height with stopper: 2 6 in. (6.8 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Mrs. George Washington Wales, 1895 (95.759). Although of a rare subject, the form, style of enameling and type of reign mark here are all typical of a range of Daoguang imperial porcelain snuff bottles made in sets. Although no other example from this set, if all were of the same story, comes to mind, the title identifies it as a popular fable about a mother who felt her environment was not conducive to bringing up her children properly, so moved three times to ensure that it was. It is possible that in this case a set of, say, ten bottles may have had different stories of family concerns decorating the other bottles. 3. Nephrite. Probably palace workshops, 1730–1820. Height with stopper: 3 in. (7.6 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Mrs. George Washington Wales, 1895 (95.817). Certain features identify this as a carving made for the court, and probably at Beijing, although other production centers often produced wares to Beijing palace- designs making it difficult to distinguish between centers of imperial production, while still being able to identify imperial style. This style, based on early Suzhou works with more restrained, lower relief carving and less obvious use of the colors in the stone, is typically courtly. Other courtly features are the inspiration from a vase form, the matching jade cover to match that on the vase that inspired the form, and the framed oval panel of decoration. 4. Gold and iron-red enameled molded porcelain. Jingdezhen, 1780–1810. Height without stopper: 2 Ω in. (6.3 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Bequest of Mrs. Arthur Croft—The Gardner Brewer Collection, 1901 (01.6401). One of the most intriguing evolutions in ceramics for the snuff-bottle world came with the so-called “ molded porcelain ” group of the mid-Qing period. From the late Qianlong reign onward there was Fig. 1. Enameled porcelain snuff bottle, 1780–1830. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Mrs. George Washington Wales, 95.742. Fig. 2. Enameled porcelain snuff bottle, Daoguang period, 1821–1850. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Mrs. George Washington Wales, 95.759. Fig. 3. Jade snuff bottle with low relief of a landscape scene, 1730–1820. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Mrs. George Washington Wales, 95.817.