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Modern Art of Snuff Bottle

Inside painted snuff bottle: a collecting guide

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

This article offers 5 key points on collecting contemporary inside painted snuff bottles, which D.D Art uses these as collection principle. Respectively are the artist's background, resume of artwork, personal style, and select the one you love most and last but not the least, Only select the best! - Estimated reading time: 6 mins

The Chinese snuff bottle is a traditional Chinese and classic craft with a long-held history from the late Ming to the early Qing Dynasty. It reflects the hint of the Old Chinese lifestyle and the historical testimony to Qing dynasty habits. Initially, a snuff bottle was a practical invention to hold snuff. Due to its convenience and practicality, later palace craftsmen made snuff bottles in various ways to cater to the royal families. Snuff Bottles made of jade, ceramics, glass, ivory, glass, enamel, etc., are regarded as adorable, and the surviving works have been captivated by collectors from all over the world. Snuff bottles are not uncommon in international auctions, such as the recent Christie's auction and Sotheby's auction. Snuff bottles are all covered. In China, snuff bottles are also a frequent art form that appeared in reputed auctions. Of the various snuff bottles, the modern snuff bottle is another exciting category to certain collectors. Modern inside painted constitutes one group within the snuff bottle family, while contemporary enamel glass snuff bottle has certain fans. Speaking of the value, some collectors argue that compared to the historicity of antique snuff bottles, modern inside painted to appear to be of little value. However, D.D Art proposes a different idea.



D.D Art believes that when appreciating contemporary inside painting snuff bottles, one needs to break away from traditional art thinking and look at modern inside painting snuff bottles from a brand-new perspective. The essence of contemporary inside painting snuff bottles is similar to the so-called conceptual art in the West, a new technique that attempts to innovate on the old carrier, starting from the invention of inside painting skills. Conceptual integration and breakthrough are orginal departure of the modern snuff bottle. Therefore, contemporary snuff bottles should be viewed from a new perspective to enjoy the fun different from the old one. So what are the main points when collecting contemporary snuff bottles? D.D Art put forward 5 critical points for the systematic collection of contemporary inside paintings.


1. The background of the artist reveals...


In the first step, collectors should have a rough understanding of the artist's background. From the behavior, education, and teacher of a living artist, ever won the award, these factors will affect the current/future value of the work. For example, if an artist focuses only profitable, then the work may be over-produced. Whether the artist owns the award such as " Chinese arts and crafts" is a good sign as excellent work. Therefore, just as D.D Art decides whether to collect a piece of work, we will have sufficient knowledge of the artist itself before we choose it.


In the case of Mr. Li Yingtao in our collection, because of his disability, when he was young, he was more attentive than the average person in learning inside painting. Based on talent, he independently made breakthroughs in his works and used the unique technique of ink-splashing to show a lively, cheerful, and energetic inner state in his works. It is vastly different from the traditional painter who loves copying as its deep root in Chinese art field. In addition, according to our interactions with the artist, D.D Art also learned that the output of Mr. Li Yingtao's works is not much in circulation compared to some craftsmen who take pleasure in money, like to produce in large quantities. Therefore, Mr. Li Yingtao's works are included in our D.D Art gallery.


A master-class artwork, splash ink snuff bottle by Li YIngtao.
A master-class artwork, splash ink snuff bottle by Li YIngtao.


2. Resume of the artwork


Antique snuff bottle does not necessarily have a complete work history because it has a long history, and many things can hardly be tested. However, for contemporary artworks, the resume and provenance of the work are critical, affecting the value and the possible future investment return. Snuff bottle collectors should ask the following four questions beforehand to help identify whether the works can be collected directly.


  1. Has this work ever been exhibited?

  2. Has it ever been in the hands of a well-known auction house or dealer?

  3. Has it ever been collected by a well-known collector?

  4. Is the resume of this work complete?


A complete resume can show the potential of the work and increase the conviction that the product is authentic. If the collection is intended to be released in the future, a complete resume can also increase the willingness of next-hand collectors. However, contemporary interior painting snuff bottle works are still developing in the market, and comprehensive resumes are rare. Regardless of it, the resume of the artwork is still one of the reference factors for the collection of modern inside painting snuff bottles. Choosing a reputed dealer is a good option for a resume. For instance, every artwork released by D.D Art will be issued with an authenticated certification signed by the original artist.


A fine snuff bottle with the right provenance from Bonhams by Ye Zhongsan
A fine snuff bottle with the right provenance from Bonhams by Ye Zhongsan. Collected by D.D Art

3. Personal style & Artistic vocabulary


Due to the high technical requirements for the contemporary inside painter, there are not many good artists who can paint well, and most of them are only in the stage of copying and imitating. Only innovated artists with personal style and own artistic vocabulary can genuinely have a place in the competitive modern inside painting snuff bottles. Take Mr. Zhang Zenglou, for example. In his work, it is observed that the paint colors used are bold, and the brush strokes on painting are unrestrained as a free mind. The author's spirit that is full of confidence can be seen in the works. His painting style has mirrored that in real life, Zhang Zenglou is a successful scholar. In addition to being a professor, he is also an artist with solid academic thoughts.


Therefore, if you want to collect contemporary inside painted snuff bottle, you need to watch and listen more, develop your vision, and pay attention to the uniqueness and personal style of the artist's work. Only in this way can we excavate outstanding works from the vast and endless contemporary artworks, and the uniqueness can make this work unique and meaningful in the history of art. Otherwise, it's nothing but an ordinary craft. For the introduction of artists, please refer to the regular publication of D.D Art, which will continuously update the introduction articles on contemporary inside painting. Let's subscribe it for for information!



4. Choose your love and love your choice


Some collectors with deep pockets like to spend a lot of money collecting and putting many artworks back in the warehouse to show their social status and wealth. However, they have never really understood their collection. Only after several years, they realize the existence of the artwork bought accidentally. It's not difficult to find out that their attitude toward fine art is an investment mentality, focusing on value-added and benefits, even tax avoidance and completely forgetting the collection's essence. Collecting is about passion and love for the things they love, satisfying their hobbies, and dialogue and aesthetic identification toward the mutual relationship.


The first-class collectors are often not those who hold the most "money," but those who are the most motivated. Without the love of art, a collector cannot spontaneously strengthen the vision of art and naturally can't become a good collector. Therefore, when collecting contemporary inside painted snuff bottles, in addition to intensive research, it is imperative that a collector should also have a genuine enthusiasm and love for the art of snuff bottles. Finally, when you choose your favorite work, you should cultivate your feelings and play and enjoy the fun of collecting.


A master-class artwork, snuff bottle by Zhang Rucai. Collected by D.D Art
A master-class artwork, snuff bottle by Zhang Rucai. Collected by D.D Art

5. Only select the best and greatest!


For both new and advanced snuff bottle collectors, D.D Art suggests collecting "only" the artwork from the most prestigious artists. Starting with the delicate fine works has many benefits. One of which is that and selective artists can be observed and researched in many ways. Well-known artists such as Master Wang Xian, or his direct disciples, such as Zhang Rucai, Zhang Zenglou, Li Yingtao, Fu Guoshun, etc., are already well-known artists in the market. Other schools artists, such as Liu Shouben and Li Kechang are also a good choice for collection. These renowned artists deserve to be owned because of their rarity, artistry, and recognition in the market. At present, the disciples of Master Wang Xisan's "direct line" have grown up for many years, and most of them no longer paint. But, the connotation and artistic expression of these masters have already matured and thus considered to be more valuable. Starting with fine products will be a good start point for collectors to sharpen the eyes. Briefly speaking, when you see the good one, there is no way to go back!


A fine artwork, snuff bottle by Fu GuoSun. Collected by D.D Art
A fine artwork, snuff bottle by Fu GuoSun. Collected by D.D Art

But why do we not recommend new-emerging painters? The reason is that, according to our observations, most young artists are often not mature enough. After several years of work, many have left this challenging industry, and their skills are not good enough, let alone artistic feeling. Their performance only shows as a copy craftsman with self-claim to be valuable and like to sell their work at a high price, which is difficult to convince the public. This behavior disrupts the market price. Of course, if collectors want to support emerging artists, just be careful not to be fooled by unscrupulous dealers to buy at high prices. An excellent collector must also consider value, investment in return, and market situation when collecting artworks. At present, some new inside painters often leave when discovering that other industries are more profitable. In all, if you buy such works, it is likely to finally threw out the baby with the bath. It is not wise.

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