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One of a small exclusive group of jade snuff bottles crafted by the renowned Suzhou school, it had been skilfully worked in their signature style employing the black inclusions of the jade.

To the front, it depicted a monkey offering a peach to a reclining scholar resting beneath a leafy branch against a white jade rockwork ground, while the reverse, right, was incised and gilded with a long inscription on a raised panel. No other bottle of this type has been published to date and it is thought this may have been made as a one-off special commission.

Incorporating raised panels into the design is a difficult and time-
consuming process and this
decorative feature is rarely employed.

Although few examples have appeared on the market, London snuff bottle dealer Robert Hall has handled and published three snuff bottles with raised panel
decoration in the last 13 years. He had no doubt as to the quality of this example: “When I walked into Christie’s and saw it I could see it was old and brilliant,” he said.

Setting aside its uniqueness as a jade work of art, the snuff bottle had a rock solid provenance. It had been sold through London dealers Messrs. Bluett and once graced the Liddell Collection. Most recently it had been given to the vendor’s late husband by Mrs Alfred Clark – one of the most eminent 20th century collectors of Chinese art – in
gratitude for his horticultural advice and friendship.

London is synonymous with
purchasing snuff bottles and several London specialist dealers contested the entry that was consigned with a speculative £30,000-40,000 pre-sale estimate. Robert Hall underbid the bottle in the room to £130,000 but was outpriced by an overseas
telephone buyer – rumoured to be a Far Eastern purchaser – who secured it at £150,000, a new auction record for a Suzhou snuffbottle. The previous record-holding Suzhou snuff bottle was from the Cai Shi Xuan collection, and was sold at Sotheby’s, London, June 1995, for a premium-inclusive £98,300.