Rare Chinese Kangxi Capuchine, Jingdezhen, c.1700


This rare cup is decorated in a famille verte palette of black, green, orange-red and gold. A continuous branch of blossoming prunus is painted beneath the flared rim, and the bulbous lower section of the body is painted with trailing leaves and flowers. The scroll handle, with its 'kick' to the lower terminal, is painted with a red artemisia leaf, with two other leaves painted either side of both the upper and lower terminals. The footrim is neatly trimmed.

The name capuchine derives from the cup's resemblance in profile to the habit worn by a Capuchin Franciscan monk.

The form began in English 17th-Century silver and was used for the consumption of the newly fashionable beverages, hot chocolate and coffee. The shape is rare in ceramic form, with a small number of late 17th-Century salt-glazed stoneware examples known to have been made by John Dwight at Fulham, and also in red stoneware by the Elers brothers.

The shape is rare in Chinese porcelain, and the pronounced bulbous body and flared lip, along with the use of famille verte decoration indicate an early date of manufacture for this cup. It would almost certainly have been made to order in one of the privately-owned kilns in Jindgezhen, for export to England. No other Chinese example with famille verte decoration and with such an exaggerated form appears to be recorded.

Condition: Good. There is a tiny filled chip to the rim above the handle and an associated 2 cm hairline. Beside this is a very short 0.5 cm hairline which is confined to the glaze and does not go through to the porcelain. No other damage or restoration. There is a small manufacturing frit to the rim, and also a few firing cracks/clay tears from production.

Dimensions: Height 8.1 cm

Refs. Click here for a Ceramics in America (2008) article on a rare Dwight capuchine, written by Jacqueline Pearce of the Museum of London.

The English Decoration of Oriental Porcelain: some overlooked groups 1700-1750, Errol Manners (ECC Transactions, vol. 19, no. 1, 2005).

Thank you to Rosemary Pemberton, for sharing her extensive knowledge of the capuchine form.


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