Lot 518. A pair of iron-red 'dragon' cups, Seal marks and period of Qianlong (1736-1795). Diameter 6.2 cm. Lot Sold 78,740 USD (Estimate 30,000 - 50,000 USD). © Sotheby's 2023

the base of each with a six-character seal mark in underglaze blue (2)

ProvenanceAmerican Private Collection, received as a gift in 1964, and thence by descent.

ExhibitedCatalogue of the Loan Collection of Paintings, and the Schoonmaker Collection of Porcelains and Cloisonné, at the Job Male Library, Art Gallery and Museum, part II, New Jersey, 1887, cat. no. 25.  

NoteA Qianlong mark and period cup of this type is illustrated in Gongting zhencang: Zhongguo Qing dai guanyao ciqi / Treasures in the Royalty: The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, p. 269. Recent examples sold at auction include one sold at Christie's New York, 15th December 2015, lot 98; and another sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 16th December 2021, lot 5061.

Cups of this design were made throughout the Qing dynasty and even in the preceding Ming dynasty. For a Yongzheng period example, compare a pair from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Bernat and now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics. The World's Great Collections, vol. 11, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Tokyo, 1976, pl. 258. See also two Chenghua period examples with the dragons in yellow and green enamel, illustrated in A Legacy of Chenghua: Imperial Porcelain of the Chenghua Reign Excavated from Zhushan, Jingdezhen, Hong Kong, 1993, pls C84 and C85.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 22 March 2023