A rare Chinese export cup & saucer with European scene decoration
A Chinese export cup and saucer with an intriguing and rare European subject design in famille rose enamels, dating from the Qianlong period.￼￼ Both the cup and saucer are decorated with a design of three cherubs in a landscape full of symbolism. One of the cherubs is blowing bubbles from a pipe while the other two look on. In the surrounding landscape there is a pyramid with broken top and what appears to be a lion's head emerging from a rock (possibly a misunderstood representation of a Sphinx) together with a crown and musical instruments. The rim of the saucer and the inside rim of the cup are decorated with a scrollwork design with green branches and with shining suns with faces and with serpents beneath. Saucer diameter 12.4 cm (4.9"), cup diameter 8 cm (3.1").
The original of this design has not been identified with certainty. A saucer with this design is included in David Howard's book 'The Choice of the Private Trader' #209 and he suggests that the sun and pyramid could indicate a Masonic connection. He also speculates that its rarity suggests that only a single service may have been ordered of this design. A very similar cup and saucer were included in Marchants 90th Anniversary Exhibition of Chinese Export Porcelain in which reference is made to a similar saucer illustrated by J. A. Lloyd Hyde in 'Oriental Lowestoft' where this author describes this scene as Les Trois Amours and states that the decoration is copied exactly from St. Cloud porcelain after designs by Hubert Robert (1733-1808). There is a teapot with this design in the British Museum (collection number 1963,0422.5.a-b).
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Hardouin, Nantes. Sold by Jacqueline Polles, 3 rue des Saussaies, Paris, with their label on the base of the saucer.
Date: Qianlong circa 1750 to 1760
Condition: there is a short and clean hairline at the rim of the saucer ~1cm long. No other damage and no restoration. The enamels are in very good condition.￼￼￼￼￼