Contributed by Andrew Nai, SEACS Vice-President (2017-2018)

One side of the exterior showing some of the eight floral motifs.

One side of the exterior painted with eight underglaze blue individual flower sprays

The base showing its eight-character mark in two vertical lines

In June 2013, I bought from an art auction house in Melbourne, Australia, a Chinese wine cup of 7.9cm diameter, the exterior painted with eight underglaze blue individual flower sprays and the base with an eight-character mark in two vertical lines of Xuantong Jiyou Yichun Tangzhi. This mark is translated as ‘Xuantong jiyou cyclical year (1909), made for the Hall of Pleasant Spring’. The base markOne side

All I knew at that time was this wine cup was dated two years before the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911 and it had a very interesting studio hallmark. But I had no clue as to how this hallmark came about and who it belonged to.

Incidentally in November 2013, a wine cup of the identical size and design as the above cup came up for sale in an art auction house in Sydney, Australia. However, this cup has a slightly different eight-character base mark in two vertical lines of Xuantong Gengxu Yichun Tangzhi. This mark is translated as ‘Xuantong Gengxu cyclical year (1910), made for the Hall of Pleasant Spring’. I ended up purchasing this wine cup too.

 

Shortly after, I decided to trawl through my huge collection of Chinese art books, hopefully to satisfy my collector’s curiosity as to what those two base marks are. Lo and behold, I finally found the answer in Rare Marks on Chinese Ceramics: A Joint Exhibition from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum by Ming Wilson 1999. There is on page 65 of this book a wine cup of an identical design and base mark to one of the cups I possess.