These bowls are notable for their style of painting which reflects the innovative developments and fresh confidence of craftsmen working during the Yongzheng Emperor’s reign. Painted in a technique known as the ‘boneless style’ for its virtually skeleton and outline-free design, the only lines incorporated into the composition are the black lines used to define the veins on the leaves and butterflies. Although this technique was known in painting from the Ming period, it was not widely used on porcelain decoration, most likely because it was too complicated to use on a mass-production scale. It represented a great challenge to the artists as lesser-skilled painters would require outlines to complete their sections of decoration, and if not handled correctly it would give the impression that the piece was unfinished.
A closely related bowl was sold in these rooms, 18th May 1988, lot 264, and again at Christie’s Hong Kong, 2nd November 1999, lot 522; a pair of bowls sold in these rooms, 14th May 1983, lot 196; and another bowl from the Edward T. Chow collection, 19th May 1981, lot 605. Another pair of similar bowls is in the Meyintang collection, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyingtang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vo. 2, no. 964, and currently being offered in The Meiyintang Collection, part V, lot 13.
See further bowls painted with designs in the ‘boneless style’, illustrated in the Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Falangcai and Famille-Rose, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 73; and two pairs of bowls published in The Tsui Museum of Art. Chinese Ceramics IV, Hong Kong, 1995, nos. 150 and 151.