A tiny snuff bottle set a new world record when it sold at Bonhams in Hong Kong for £2,108,333 on November 28. The famille-rose enamelled glass ‘European-subject’ snuff bottle made in the Imperial Palace workshops in Beijing during the Qianlong period (1736-1795) measures only 8.07cm high. It was sold to an Asian collector for more than five times the estimate
This was the largest snuff bottle of all recorded Imperial Palace enamels on glass. It is set apart by the distinctly European, elaborate trompe l’oeil frames around all four panels. The main panels depict elegant European ladies, while the subsidiary ones are of Chinese landscapes. The influence of missionaries in the court arts of glassmaking and enamelling was significant during the first half of the eighteenth century. At the time this bottle was made European and Chinese court artists worked side by side at the Imperial Palace workshops.