Lot 513. A fine pair of famille-verte wine cups, Kangxi marks and period (1662-1722).Diameter 2 3/8  in., 6 cm. Estimate 80,000 — 120,000 USD. Lot sold 375,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

each finely potted, of U-form, the gently rounded sides rising steeply from a recessed base, the exterior beautifully enameled with a continuous scene depicting inspirational scholarly themes; one in a wintry landscape with the Tang dynasty poet Meng Haoran in heavy robes, riding a donkey followed by an attendant carrying a large prunus branch, the other, an animated portrayal of two scholars on horseback, each holding a riding crop to encourage their mounts onward, followed by attendants on foot carrying various scholarly accoutrements, the base with a six-character mark in underglaze blue, wood stands (4).

Note: This pair of cups is an outstanding example of the high level of skill of porcelain artists working at Jingdezhen in the Kangxi period. Despite the small surface of the cups, the craftsman has successfully captured the drama of the scenes, which are likely taken from woodblock print illustrations and translated into a famille-verte palette. A sense of dynamism is captured through the use of outlines which have been drawn in swift yet fine strokes complimenting the bold colors of the brilliant enameling.

Small elegant cups of this type tend to be decorated with scholarly themes. For example, see a closely related pair of wine cups of the same form and palette, from the Edward T. Chow Collection and the T.Y. Chao Collection, depicting two of the famous ‘Eight Drunken Immortals’, Li Bai and Zhizhang, which sold twice in our Hong Kong rooms, 25th November 1980, lot 149 and again, 18th November 1986, lot 119, and more recently at Christie’s Hong Kong, 1st June 2011, lot 3586. A cup of more conical shape, but decorated with the same scene of Meng Haoren, with an apocryphal Chenghua mark, from the Jie Rui Tang Collection sold in these rooms, 20th March 2018, lot 336. Kangxi mark and period examples of this form and subject matter were made in other palettes: a doucai cup depicting Su Jin sold three times in our Hong Kong rooms, 15th November 1983, lot 296, 15th May 1990, lot 280 and recently on 3rd April 2018, lot 3612; and two blue and white examples are in the Palace Museum, Beijing and illustrated in Chen Rumin ed., Gugong Bowuguan Cang Qingdai ciqi leixuan, Qing Shunzhi Kangxi chao qinghuaci [Qing porcelains from the Palace Museum Collection selected by type. Blue and white porcelain of the Shunzhi and Kangxi reigns of the Qing], vol. I, Beijing, 2005, pls 155 and 156.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 20 March 2019