A PAIR OF DOUCAI 'CHICKEN' CUPS
QING DYNASTY, KANGXI PERIOD
清康熙 鬥彩雞缸盃一對 《大明成化年製》仿款
each finely potted, rising from a flat base to gently flaring sides, delicately painted with two scenes of a cockerel and hen with three chicks, divided by sprays of peonies and bamboo amidst rockwork, all between line borders, the recessed base with an apocryphal six-character Chenghua mark in underglaze blue within a double square (2)
Diameter 2⅜ in., 6.1 cm
Overall in good condition. One with a minute characteristic nick to the inner footrim. Very minor wear surface wear and a few minute scattered firing imperfections at the bases.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
For more information on and additional videos for this lot, please contact Cindy.Qi@sothebys.com.
This delicate pair of cups are inspired by the famous ‘chicken cups’ of the Chenghua period (1465-1487). Unmatched in their level of craftsmanship, Chenghua porcelain, and in particular enameled wares, were among the most coveted objects of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). They were considered rare and expensive already in the Wanli reign (r. 1572-1620) and their value rose even further during the Kangxi period, as mentioned in several contemporary texts. For example, Liu Tingji (active c. 1700-1725), the deputy assistant of Lang Tingji (1663-1715), the governor of Jiangxi, noted, ‘As for Chenghua… the price of a pair of chicken cups is 100 pieces of gold and they are difficult to purchase’ (see The Emperor’s Broken China. Reconstructing Chenghua Porcelain, Sotheby’s, London, 1995, p. 18). The exceptional rarity and popularity of Chenghua ‘chicken cups’ encouraged their reproduction in the Qing dynasty. During the Kangxi reign, ‘chicken cups’ were made either with Kangxi reign marks or with spurious Chenghua marks, and with designs that closely followed the prototypes.
Doucai ‘chicken cups’ with spurious Chenghua marks include two in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Imperial Porcelains from the Reign of Chenghua in the Ming Dynasty II, Beijing, 2016, pls 281 and 282; one in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Museum’s Special Exhibition of Ch’eng-hua Porcelain, Taipei, 1976, pl. 30; another from the collection of William and Jennifer Shaw, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 29th October 1991, lot 203, and again in these rooms, 11th September 2012, lot 41. See also a ‘chicken cup’ with a Kangxi mark and of the period, from the collection of Sir Percival David and now in the British Museum, London, illustrated in Stacey Pierson and Rosemary Scott, Flawless Porcelains: Imperial Ceramics from the Reign of the Chenghua Emperor, London, 1995, pl. 40; and a pair from the Edward T. Chow Collection sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 25th November 1980, lot 138.
For the Chenghua prototype of this design see six examples in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the exhibition Chenghua ciqi tezhan/Special Exhibition of Ch’eng-hua Porcelain Ware, 1465-1487, Taipei, 2003, cat. nos 132-7.
本品靈感來自明代成化雞缸盃。成化瓷器巧奪天工，舉世無雙，尤以彩瓷備受推崇，至萬曆年間已屬至珍，根據同期文獻，明成化彩瓷於康熙年間身價更高。江西巡撫郎廷極屬下劉廷磯曾撰文記載，一對雞缸盃價值可比百金，一品難求（參考《The Emperor's Broken China. Reconstructing Chenghua Porcelain》，倫敦蘇富比，1995年，頁18）。 成化雞缸盃於清代備受推崇，但其數量極少，藝匠故而仿效燒製。康熙年間，雞缸盃或帶康熙年款，或帶成化仿款，紋飾力求接近成化原型。
北京故宮博物院收藏兩件帶成化仿款之鬥彩雞缸盃，圖載於《明代成化御窰瓷器（下）》，北京，2016年，圖版281及282；台北國立故宮博物院收藏一例，曾展於該館《明成化瓷器特展》，台北，1976年，圖版30；另一例出自 William及Jennifer Shaw 收藏，售於香港蘇富比1991年10月29日，編號203，後易手於紐約蘇富比2012年9月11日，編號 41。此外尚可比較一件大維德爵士故藏雞缸盃，康熙年器並款，現存於倫敦大英博物館，圖載於畢宗陶及蘇玫瑰，《Flawless Porcelains: Imperial Ceramics from the Reign of the Chenghua Emperor》，倫敦，1995年，圖版40；另一對例出自仇焱之雅藏，售於香港蘇富比1980年11月25日，編號138。