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The Baur Collection: Chinese Snuff Bottles
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The Baur Collection: Chinese Snuff Bottles (Hardback)

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The art of the snuff bottle occupies an important position in the history of arts and crafts of both China and the world. The first snuff bottles can be traced back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), a relatively recent development in terms of China's long history. From their initial status as a useful luxury item, snuff bottles became curios and collectors' objects in both China and Europe. The Chinese believed that snuff possessed medicinal qualities, and that its use helped to dispel colds, cure migraine, sinus and tooth pain, relieve throat trouble, cause sweats and counter asthma and constipation. It was not until the eighteenth century that snuff-bottles began to be made in large numbers. The traditional shape for snuff bottles were that they were small enough to fit in the palm of the hand. Generally they were provided with a small spoon fixed in the stopper and capped usually with a hemispherical piece of jade.

This book presents the magnificent Chinese snuff bottles from the Alfred Baur collection, which is characterised by a yearning for perfection, a love for detailed work using exquisite materials, an admiration for artists who draw out the purity of stone, the transparency of crystal, the perfection of glass, the silky softness of jade, and the splendour of enamel colours. All of these qualities are rendered magnificently in the catalogue's exquisite photographs. The catalogue and collection is classified according to the materials which include, sixty-one glass snuff bottles, seventeen porcelain, eleven jade, fifty-seven quartz (from the purest rock crystal to velvety agate) and three in semi-precious stones. It also includes fourteen extraordinary snuff bottles in organic materials: amber, coral, ivory, mother-of-pearl and lacquer. Finally, seven sumptuous bottles decorated with enamel and gold on metal are the highlight of the book and collection.

Verene Nicollier-de Weck was Assistant Curator of the Baur Collection Museum of Far Eastern Art in Geneva for thirty years. She is the author of numerous publications and catalogues.

More books by Verene Nicollier-de Weck

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