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Click to enlargeChinese Snuff Bottles with Inside Painting

The snuff bottle painted on the inside is a later-emerging handicraft. If other sorts of snuff bottles were executed in arts and crafts techniques, the sole skill on inside painting was born especially for painting snuff bottles. Its outstanding contribution lies in: with innovations in tools and operations, the painters turned the art painted and written on sheets of paper into art painted on hard glass snuff bottle (including rock crystal), and moreover, painted reversely on the inside, of which the difficulty and intriguing are unimaginable. It is superb craftsmanship excelling nature. It is worth noting that the success and development of the snuff bottle painted on the inside depended on the high-transparency glass, especially the successful technique of chest-hollowing.

The date when the inside painted snuff bottle was first made still remains to be confirmed. But the Qianlong Theory and Guangxu Theory of the Qing dynasty were widely spread.

The Guangxu reign (1875-1908) saw a climax in the production of the inside painted snuff bottles. Famous painters coming forth in large numbers. The subject matters painted are wide-ranging. Each different in style, opening up a prospect of all flowers vying for beauty in full bloom. The master painters who exercised strong influence upon the art of the inside painting including Zhou Leyuan, Ma Shaoxuan, Ye Zhongsan, Ding Erzhong, Meng Zishou, Bi Rongjiu and others.

The inside-painted snuff bottle also had something to do with the Qing imperial court. The imperial court did collect several portraitures by renown painters, giving a proof to the fact that the inside painted snuff bottles found favor in the eyes of the royal family and were presented as tributes.

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