VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Stem cup
38.442
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This stem cup, with figures in a landscape painted in underglaze cobalt blue, is typical of the finely potted and decorated porcelain of the sixteenth century. The pattern on the cup depicts a scene from the Chinese love story ‘The Romance of the Western Chamber (Xi Xiang Ji)’, where Zhang Sheng, a young scholar after winning first place in the national examination has come back to marry his lover Yingying. The pattern on the cup shows Zhang Sheng in his court dress, leading several servants to Yingying’s house. The figures in the scene have little facial expression and the surrounding landscape is only roughly depicted, yet the clear outlines and the expressive scene successfully tell the story.

History of the Object
There were few innovations during the Hongzhi reign (1488 – 1505 AD) of the Ming Dynasty, but rather a continuation of tried and tested formulae: dragon scroll designs, yellow and white monochromes, and yellow and blue sprays of flowers. The blue motifs are rendered in washes enclosed in well-defined outlines. The ‘Xi Xiang Ji’ motif, as well as ‘The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo Yanyi)’ motif, are commonly found in Blue-and-White porcelains in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, a reflection of the popularity of play-writing during this period.

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Type
Ceramics 
Materials
Porcelain with underglaze blue decoration 
Measurements
H: 10.8cm, D: 14.9cm (mouth), 4.4cm (base) 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 15th century ~ AD 16th century 
Creation date
15th Century - 16th Century; Ming dynasty, Hongzhi reign (1488 – 1505) 
Function
Stem cup 
Acquisition
This object was in the H.F. Parfitt collection sale at Sotheby’s on 8 February 1946, lot 49, purchased by Frank Partridge & Sons for Sir William Burrell for £26; by whom gifted to the Corporation of the City of Glasgow in 1946. 
Copyright
The image of this object belongs to the Burrell Collection. For any enquiry on this access to the image, please contact the Photograph Library at: Photolibrary@glasgowlife.org.uk 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
City of Glasgow 
Museum
The Burrell Collection 
Credit line
©Copyright Culture & Sports Glasgow (Museums) 

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