Skip to Content
Closed today, next open tomorrow. Closed today, next open tomorrow.

Pair of Cups

Small white porcelain cups with circular patterns and no handles.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • Small white porcelain cups with circular patterns and no handles.


Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Yongzheng reign mark and period (1723–1735)



About this artwork

The emperors of China’s last dynasty, the Qing, were enamored of exquisitely decorative objects and recruited remarkable craftsmen to serve their court. During his brief reign, the Yongzheng emperor, himself an artist and astute connoisseur, took a personal role in overseeing the imperial kilns. In their elegance and technical sophistication, these extraordinarily thin cups exemplify his exacting standards. Their floral medallions were delicately outlined in pale cobalt blue and, after glazing and firing, filled with soft, translucent enamels. So perfectly do these enamels fill the outlines that this technique is known as doucai (joined or dovetailed colors). Although quite different from the naturalistic floral motifs that characterize many Qing imperial porcelains, these medallions are also seen in rare examples of exquisite Yongzheng ware in the Palace Museum in Beijing. Their style may reflect the influence of Japanese lacquers, which were imported into China in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and subsequently inspired creative copies by Chinese palace craftsmen. The Yongzheng emperor was renowned for having encouraged innovative and sometimes foreign-inspired design in ceramics as well as other decorative arts.


On View, Gallery 134


Arts of Asia


Pair of Cups


China (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Porcelain painted in underglaze blue and overglaze enamels (doucai)


A: h. 5.7 cm (2 1/4 in.) diam. 10.2 cm (4 in.) B: h.5.7 cm (2 1/4 in.) diam.10.0 cm (3 15/16 in.)

Credit Line

Bequest of Henry C. Schwab

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions