A pair of large cloisonné enamel magpies

Qing dynasty, 18th century, China

Length: 34cm, 13.39inches

Each is modelled standing on gilt bronze legs and talons, with the head turned inquisitively to the side and the gilt bronze beak open to expose the tongue. Their bodies are predominantly black with white breasts and are decorated with a network of fine zig-zag wires. The multi coloured plumage on the wings and tail comprise enamels of black, yellow, red, turquoise, lapis-lazuli, white and green. This pair of magpies are of unusually large size the like of which have not been recorded, the size allows them to achieve a powerful presence.

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