The Lingnan School ~IJ ~ i- ; { ~; ~ .,It DV of. '" "( Fig. 7. Crystal bottle, showing inscription in regular script signed Chen Quan. referring to it in their poetic inscrip– tions. Here the signature Chen Quan is followed by rwo characters which mean 'presented by,' implying that the bonle is a gift for one of the art– ist's friends. There appears to be linle doubt that the front of this bottle was painted by an amateur (fig. 10). The Fig. 8. Front of bottle in figure 7, showing painting signed Hengsan. their hands to painting snuff bottles at a stage in their lives when they were already practiced artiSts, com– petent and confident on the more usual surfaces. Their attempts at transferring their skills to the new medium of the interior of a snuff bottle, with its obvious constraints, would certainly have resulted in rather more hesitant early works re– gardless of their abilities as artists. The poem is followed by the signa– ture Chen Quan. The other side bears the only known version of the signature Hengsan, which we have already mentioned (fig. 8). It is likely that it is another of the artist's assumed names, which he perhaps used early in his snuff-bonle paint– ing career and then abandoned in favor of the regular use of Qiuyan. However, it is also possibly the name of a collaborating artist who painted the blossoming branches while Chen did the reverse inscrip– tion. There is no other evidence of this practice in bottles of the Ling– nan School, but it is typical of literati painting in general. The literati con– sidered their art a profound form of play. When they got together in their elegant gatllerings, at which poets, painters, calligraphers, musicians, philosophers, and other members of the influential minority gathered, they would often create joint works. On a single piece of paper, various different artists might contribute to an overall work of art; or an album might be composed to which differ– ent artists contributed different leaves. This common practice and the literati origins of the new art of painting inside snuff bottles suggest that we should leave open the ques– tion of whether Hengsan is another name for Chen Quan, as is most likely, or belonged to another of the Lingnan painters in the circle of Gan Xuanwen. A reasonably confident inscrip– tion appears in another typically Lingnan-shaped crystal bortle (fig. 9). The poem again refers to the world inside the snuff bottle, one of the many that suggest that the Lingnan artists, with their invention of- or at least first popularization of -the art of snuff-bottle interior painting, were still sufficiently in– trigued by the new art form to keep - Fig. 6. Reverse of bottle in figure 5, show– ing inscription in draft script and signature Chen Quan. Fig. 5. A second pine tree subject, signed Qiuyan. its end. The less confident quality of this bottle suggests that it may be earlier than the previous example. Regular script is again used on an unusual shape of bottle for the Ling– nan School, although it is still in crystal (fig. 7). Here the calligraphy is not as confident, suggesting a hand less practiced on the inside of a bottle. The Lingnan anists were clearly scholar-painters who turned 7