A Private Hong Kong Collection

It is my honour and great pleasure to handle this private Hong Kong collection of Qing dynasty glass and bronzes, assembled between the 1980s to around 2010. I first met the collector whilst working at Christie’s London in the late 1980s, and had kept in regular contact even after leaving to set up my own company in 2000. Although he mainly acquired Beijing glass, his interests also included bronze incense burners, small jades, other works of art, and occasionally ceramics.

Here, I have selected a range of glass objects for the scholar’s desk as well as monochrome glass vases. One of the many highlights is a Yongzheng mark-and-period opaque celadon glass washer; of an unusual colour, it compares well to a washer from a similar period in the collection of Hong Kong collector Andrew K. F. Lee. Another, an opaque pink glass lotus-petal waterpot, is very closely related to an example previously in the collection of Edward T. Chow and published by The Galleries of the Baur Collection. Of a similar shape, the blue-overlay waterpot superbly presents the mastery of its maker. A subtle and elegant opaque milky-white vase with a simple lotus-petal band is of literati taste and befitting of a scholar’s table.

The striking transparent lime-green glass washer previously came from a fine group of works of art sold in 1998 at Christie’s in London and still bears the original ‘JW’ collection label. From the same group, the Qianlong mark-and-period ruby-red beaker of peculiar form is a fine imperial example of transparent glass. The transparent green glass incense burner is most unusual in colour, although versions in clear blue have been recorded. Opaque examples are slightly more abundant than those of transparent glass.

There are three bottle-form vases, two of which are Qianlong mark and period. Of the latter, both of turquoise colour, one is faceted and the second bears a Qianlong mark in seal form. The third is a large transparent dark-blue glass bottle vase that strikes an imposing presence.

The pair of large flattened transparent ruby-red glass bowls are sharply decorated with dragon and taotie masks, comparable to a similarly dated pair in the collection of Andrew K. F. Lee. Paired examples are very difficult to find.

The unique Beijing enamel and gilt-copper mounted ruby-red glass bird feeder was last seen in 1997 at Christie’s Hong Kong in ‘The Imperial Sale’. No other object of this type seems to have been recorded, but it is clear from its superb workmanship and painting that this was made for the emperor. Only the Beijing Palace Workshops could have produced an object of such high quality and it likely dates to the early part of the Qianlong period.

The bronze incense burners with inclusions of gold splash are typical of their type. There is also an unusual example in copper, silver, and gilt decorated with butterflies and a gilt-copper censer and cover signed by Hu Wenming. Lastly, I highlight a fine and heavily cast silver-inlaid bronze standing Guanyin, signed Yu Tang Shi Sou, which last appeared at auction in 1993 nd compares to figures in the Forbidden City.