Three famille rose yellow-ground 'Magpie and Prunus' cups, Tongzhi four-character marks in iron red and of the period (1862-1874). Estimate $8,000 – $12,000. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2015
Two are decorated with magpies perched and in flight amidst blossoming prunus branches, and the third with a repeated pattern of three magpies in flight amidst and framed by the prunus branches, all on a lemon-yellow ground, and within gilt borders. 3 ½ in. ( 9 cm.) diam.
Provenance: Acquired between 1960-early 1980s, and thence by descent within the family.
Notes: For a discussion of this pattern, part of a significant group of porcelain produced for the celebration of the wedding of Cixi's son Zaichun, the Tongzhi Emperor, see R. Longsdorf, 'The Tongzhi Imperial Wedding Porcelain', Orientations, October 1996, pp. 69-78, where vessels of this pattern are illustrated, figs. 14, 33 and 34.
A cup similar to the third cup is illustrated in Imperial Porcelain of Late Qing from the Kwan Collection, Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1983, p. 106, no. 99, and another was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 1 June 2011, lot 4022. A pair of cups similar to the first two cups was sold at Christie's New York, 22 March 2007, lot 424.
Christie's. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 17 - 18 September 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza