The inscription on this cup reads and can be translated as follows:
Shi jihai mu qiu,
qingyan Daoren ou
zuo yu Wuyang Cheng zhi luhuai shenchu.
The time is the late fall of the jihai year,
a green rock immortal image
is made in the depth of the green forest
at the City of Wuyang (City of Five Rams).
The inscription refers to the story of Guangdong being called Wuyang Cheng or the 'City of Five Rams' after the five immortals who rode into the city on five rams, which were turned into stone.
Enamelled bowls of this type are rare, although a closely related pair of bowls painted with flowers and butterflies and each inscribed with a five-line poem was sold in our New York rooms, 23rd March 2004, lot 549, with the two cups dated to 1721 or 1781. The liberal use of white enamel for the background and the decoration painted in a free painterly style is strongly reminiscent of a meiping of the Kangxi period illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Metal-bodied Enamel Ware, Hong Kong, 2002, pl. 171; and a small hu-form vase sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 30th October 2002, lot 202.
The form and style of the present cup is closely related to inscribed porcelain cups of the Yongzheng period; for example see a cup included in the Special Exhibition of Ch'ing Dynasty Enamelled Porcelains of the Imperial Ateliers, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1992, cat. no. 68. Both Kangxi and Yongzheng examples are of consistent size with this cup, whereas later Qianlong enamelled wares tend to be much larger and in a different style.
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