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Charll shared this beautiful Xianfeng (1851-1861) dated bottle depicting NeZha combating the Dragon King amongst a rolling sea of blue and eight mythical sea creatures.


Chinese Snuff Bottle Discussion Forum 中國鼻煙壺討論論壇
December 04, 2022, 03:53:54 pm
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Underglaze Cobalt Blue Dragon Designs

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Author Topic: Underglaze Cobalt Blue Dragon Designs  (Read 1751 times)
bambooforrest
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« Reply #80 on: October 01, 2022, 11:51:33 am »

Joey, I will try to add more provenance to each bottle. The last bottle I bought from a New Jersey auction in 2018. The next soft paste example was part of a B&W collection I bought from a small auction in 2003 [66mm].


* CO B&W TAL1 (2).JPG (136.37 KB, 311x800 - viewed 8 times.)

* CO B&W TAL2 (2).JPG (128.09 KB, 325x800 - viewed 4 times.)

* CO B&W TAL3 (2).JPG (132.13 KB, 322x800 - viewed 5 times.)

* CO B&W TAL4 (2).JPG (137.65 KB, 326x800 - viewed 6 times.)

* CO B&W TAL5 (2).JPG (125.97 KB, 574x500 - viewed 4 times.)
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John O'Hara

Joey
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« Reply #81 on: October 01, 2022, 12:33:13 pm »

Dear John,

    Perfect. That adds context.
And a beautiful soft paste porcelain bottle.
Because of the crosshatching and blue wash technique
on the dragon's scales, I'd date this one to ca.1865-1880.
Best,
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

bambooforrest
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« Reply #82 on: October 02, 2022, 08:06:50 am »

This next example I bought at another small auction in 2003. Possibly by the same hand and similar crackle as the previous bottle [58mm].


* B&W SMA1 (2).JPG (159.22 KB, 382x800 - viewed 9 times.)

* B&W SMA2 (2).JPG (158.47 KB, 384x800 - viewed 2 times.)

* B&W SMA3 (2).JPG (155.07 KB, 382x800 - viewed 2 times.)

* B&W SMA4 (2).JPG (152.35 KB, 397x800 - viewed 4 times.)

* B&W SMA5 (2).JPG (130.07 KB, 596x500 - viewed 3 times.)

* B&W SMA6 (2).JPG (120.68 KB, 564x500 - viewed 2 times.)
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John O'Hara

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« Reply #83 on: October 02, 2022, 10:41:51 am »

John,

   Comparing such less important details,
as the way the waves are painted,
and the decoration around the neck,
I can easily see very close similarities.
They may well both be from the same hand.
The crackle is because they are both soft paste porcelain.

If I remember correctly [and I sincerely hope that Charll or Giovanni,
or anyone else who is more familiar with the production and firing
of porcelain than I, will correct me if I've got this wrong, as I got the
'Orange Peel glaze' info wrong Roll Eyes Shocked Grin], Steve Little explained to me
that hard paste porcelain is 90% Kaolin porcelain clay and 10% Petuntse,
a Calcium Carbonate compound. The Petuntse mixed with the Kaolin clay,
stops the object formed of it from expanding and contracting during the
firing,  so there are no crackles.

But Soft paste porcelain, which is 100% Kaolin clay,
expands and contracts in the firing, cracking the clear glaze over it,
causing the distinctive crackling.
If there are many layers of glaze, the crackling is fine; if few and thin,
the crackling is course .
Best,
Joey

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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

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« Reply #84 on: October 02, 2022, 01:46:31 pm »

Dear Joey,
It is not that simple. I am not expert about glazes, etc., but my feeling is that soft paste is still a not firmly defined matter. For example, soft paste is even not mentioned by Nigel Wood in his “Chinese glazes”, considered the Bible of that field. As for the previous issues, you can have a look at Gotheborg’s glossary:   
https://www.gotheborg.com/glossary/softpaste.shtml
It is perhaps worth to mention that it is not the crackled glaze that is telling us if a snuff bottle is soft paste or not, because there are several types of crackled glazes and several ways for obtaining it. What is important is the vitrification of the body. Standard porcelain let light go through, while soft paste is opaque to light.
Hence, by placing a spot of light, like that of many cell phones, against the side of the bottle and looking inside it, one can determine if the bottle is soft paste or not, regardless if the glaze is crackled or not.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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rpfstoneman
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« Reply #85 on: October 02, 2022, 07:03:33 pm »


Quote
Standard porcelain let light go through, while soft paste is opaque to light.

Giovanni,

Thanks for the diagnostic tip above.  I never even bothered to check my 'so called' soft paste bottles with a light.  I know I have a few that are opaque, but have not done a light check to all of them. 

Charll
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Charll K Stoneman, Eureka, California USA, Collector Since 1979.

Joey
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« Reply #86 on: October 03, 2022, 05:03:22 am »

Dear Giovanni,

     And another bit of "Wisdom" passed down, is debunked. Sigh...
Oh well.
I was reading that 'soft paste porcelain' is mainly from the first half of the 19th C.
I thought that it was also in use in the 18th C.
Is that also incorrect?
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

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« Reply #87 on: October 03, 2022, 06:50:11 am »

Dear Joey,
Chinese soft paste items are known from around 1700.
But again, Chinese soft paste, which is not the same thing of European soft paste, is something not really clear in the Chinese ceramics field. It has a lot of significance the fact that Nigel Wood is ignoring it.
Some do believe that it even does not exist, and it is just matter of underfired normal porcelain body, which explain the opacity, but others believe that it has more kaolin than normal porcelain, hence it would need an higher firing temperature, that was missed.
Anyway, the glaze is probably the same of standard porcelain (because of the translucency), which could explain the crackling, being it not well fused with the body.
Anyway, what is typical of soft paste porcelain is:
No translucency / creamy-white color / absorbency of the fired body due to less vitrification, which may result in staining under the crackled glaze.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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bambooforrest
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« Reply #88 on: October 03, 2022, 08:01:42 am »

Giovanni, thanks for sharing your expertise on porcelain with us. I just checked my 2 previous posts and both bottles are completely opaque....John
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John O'Hara

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« Reply #89 on: October 03, 2022, 08:14:04 am »

Dear Giovanni,

     Thank you for the more accurate information.
There are many much more veteran collectors,
including Yours Truly, who are blushing over spreading
more mis-information than information... Embarrassed Cry Roll Eyes Grin
Best Wishes,
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

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« Reply #90 on: October 03, 2022, 10:15:32 am »

Dear Charll, John, Joey,
thank you. We all are learning; for example, before joining the snuff bottles Forum, I was among those believing that soft paste was probably an accident. I mean standard porcelain that was accidentally underfired. This because of its rarity in the porcelain field.
But after joining here I learned that it is much more common in the snuff bottles field, hence it means that it is a deliberate choice. Today we do not know exactly what soft paste is, if only matter of temperature, clay composition, or both. But with all evidence, at that time they knew it! Which means that soft paste bottles were surely much cared of, and we as collectors should have a special feeling for them.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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rpfstoneman
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« Reply #91 on: October 03, 2022, 11:35:32 am »


Quote
Which means that soft paste bottles were surely much cared for, and we as collectors should have a special feeling for them.

Giovanni, thank you for the summary of your thoughts and sage wisdom in the area of porcelains.  I could not agree more with your comment above for I truly appreciate the crackled glaze effect when done well, on purpose or by accident.

Charll 
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Charll K Stoneman, Eureka, California USA, Collector Since 1979.

Joey
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« Reply #92 on: October 03, 2022, 11:46:28 am »

Dear Giovanni,

    I've always loved soft paste B & W porcelain snuff bottles.
I remember reading that scholars loved them especially,
because their surface 'took' the cobalt blue in a way which
enabled a more 'painterly' application onto the vessel.
And that often scholars themselves painted onto soft
paste porcelain vessels and fired them themselves.

Of course now, I'm not sure if these last two statements are correct,
or  just more 'dealer-invented BS' designed to sell an object to a collector.

Best,
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

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« Reply #93 on: October 03, 2022, 12:59:50 pm »

Dear Charll, thank you.
Dear Joey, it is true that soft paste is allowing a finer decoration. Scholars painting the bottles themselves it is possible, but firing them, it is really BS IMO.
It is not like cooking an egg 😊, the porcelain is fired at about 1350 degrees Celsius, and no devices for measuring the temperature. Highly experienced potters were a must.
Giovanni
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bambooforrest
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« Reply #94 on: October 03, 2022, 01:23:30 pm »

Giovanni, I agree that firing the porcelain is a highly specialized job. The next soft paste bottle [opaque body] is finely painted with a fisherman in a landscape [81mm]. It was found at a small auction in 2014.


* B&W FISH1 (2).JPG (114.85 KB, 283x800 - viewed 8 times.)

* B&W FISH2 (2).JPG (100.44 KB, 295x800 - viewed 5 times.)

* B&W FISH3 (2).JPG (102.2 KB, 281x800 - viewed 5 times.)

* B&W FISH4 (2).JPG (118.17 KB, 281x800 - viewed 6 times.)

* B&W FISH5 (2).JPG (136.08 KB, 621x500 - viewed 2 times.)
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John O'Hara

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« Reply #95 on: October 03, 2022, 03:26:24 pm »

This is what I mean by a 'painterly' painted B & W.
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

richy88
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« Reply #96 on: October 03, 2022, 09:25:26 pm »

Hi Giovanni and all

I too agreed that a scholar painting the design of a porcelain bottle may be possible. In any case, he may not have painted directly onto the object itself but create a draft for the artisan to follow.

As we know, the surface of most porcelain objects is not flat and it may prove to be a challenge for the scholar.

Firing porcelain is out of the question. Besides the hot temperature and skill required, one must also have a kiln or access to it to be able to do so.

Just my two cents.

Regards.


Richard

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Richard from sunny Singapore
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« Reply #97 on: October 04, 2022, 01:08:49 am »

Dear Richard,
I completely agree.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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Joey
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« Reply #98 on: October 04, 2022, 01:45:12 am »

OK, Guys.
So a scholar possibly painting a bottle,
or at least painting the draft for an artisan to copy onto a bottle,
is a possibility.
But a scholar actually firing a bottle by himself, is realistically,
not an option.
Well, the stuff I am repeating that I was told,
is getting better -  One Yes and One No.  Grin
Best,
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

bambooforrest
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« Reply #99 on: October 04, 2022, 08:11:38 am »

I agree there is a small possibility that the scholar painted the bottle himself. The next example is from the Collection of the Blue Dragon Lady [75mm]. The bottle is on the large side, the mask handles I have seen on later glass and porcelain bottles.


* BU DRA ROU1 (2).JPG (238.58 KB, 665x800 - viewed 5 times.)

* BU DRA ROU2 (2).JPG (133.88 KB, 340x800 - viewed 5 times.)

* BU DRA ROU3 (2).JPG (222.78 KB, 663x800 - viewed 4 times.)

* BU DRA ROU4 (2).JPG (153.93 KB, 772x500 - viewed 7 times.)
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John O'Hara

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