Magnolia Cup

Object nr. 559 China, Kangxi period (1662-1722) circa 17th Century Height: 7.5 cm | Width: 11.4 cm

- Private Collection, United Kingdom 2017
- with Lynn Greenwold, United Kingdom (label)

Condition Report available

€ 7,500

This object can be viewed in our gallery.

Additional Information

Magnolia Blossom Cup

This type of Blanc de Chine porcelain libation cup, is known as a Magnolia Blossom cup. The smooth bowl has a spreading lip, tapering sides and a rounded bottom. It stands on a raised foot in the shape of curled branches, which come up the sides of the cup. It is decorated with applied moulded relief, of plum blossom (Mei hua) on one side and branches with magnolia buds (Mulan hua) on the other. Unusually, it has traces of delicate coloured enamelling on the flowers and branches, in pink, yellow, blue and green with traces of gold. These colours would not have been applied at the production centre, but either in a provincial kiln or on its arrival in Europe.

This cup was made in Dehua, a porcelain production centre which lies on the South-Eastern coast of China, in Fujian province. This city is still famous for its production of white porcelains, known to Europeans as 'Blanc de Chine'. The earliest Dehua porcelain was already produced in the 14th century, but the production and quality peaked around the 17th and 18th centuries. Exactly such a cup is depicted on a Still-life painting by Leonard Knyff from 1681, which supports the dating.

Similar cups also appear to have been produced in other materials. The collection in Dresden has one in soapstone; and ivory and rhinoceros horn versions have been recorded, perhaps suggesting a connection between the Dehua Kilns and nearby carving workshops.

Magnolia Blossom cups, appear to have been produced in quite a large number and in several sizes, this one being the larger size. They appear in quite a few collections, sometimes in multiples or mounted. The Royal Collection Trust, UK, holds a group of these cups, with one in the same larger size (RCN 58886). The Dresden Porzellansammlung inventory records 43 of these cups, one of which still has remnants of gilding on the branches and flowers (PO 8293). Musée Guimet, Paris (G978), The Groninger Museum (nr.2005.0347.A) have undecorated examples. The Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, holds a slightly smaller Magnolia Blossom cup, from the Hickley Collection, which also has the added coloured enamelling (

- John Ayers, Chinese and Japanese Art in the Royal Collection of her Majesty the Queen Vol I,-III London, 2016, vol 1 p.72 nr. 111-131

J- .M. Cochius, Blanc de Chine, Katalogus wit geglazuurd Chinees porselein uit Têhua en enige verwante stukken, Exhibition Catalogue Groninger Museum, Gronginen,1974

- P.J. Donnelly, Blanc de Chine, New York 1969, pl 27

- David S. Howard & John Ayers, China for the West; Chinese Porcelain and other Decorative Arts for Export illustrated from the Mottahedeh Collection - Volume I. London / New York,  1978, p.102

- R. Soame Jenyns & W. Watson, Chinese Art: Textiles, Glass and Painting on Glass, Carvings in Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn, Carvings in Hardstones, Snuff Bottles, Inkcakes & Inkstones, Oxford, 1981 p.169

- Rose Kerr & John Ayers, Blanc de Chine Porcelain from Dehua, Chicago, 2002,

- Maria Penkala, Magic Blanc de Chine – A guide for the Collector and Dealer, Schiedam,1980, p.152 pl. XXXVII & XXXVII

- William R. Sargent, Treasures of Chinese Export Porcelain, from the Peabody Essex Museum, New Haven / London, 2012, p.204 nr.96

Floris van der Ven