Finely decorated in a painterly manner with Daoist immortals in a tranquil landscape scene, this bowl testifies to the artistic skills of the potters during the Yongzheng reign and reflects the Emperor’s appreciation for the past. Doucai vessels of this type first appeared around the Chenghua period of the Ming dynasty. See, for example, a Chenghua mark and period doucai cup, painted with two historical figures, Wang Xizhi (303-361) and Yu Boya (387-299 BC), but lacking the short foot, from the Qing Court collection and still preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing (accession no. Gu-145643), illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains in Polychrome and Contrasting Colours, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 175.
During the Yongzheng period, Jingdezhen kilns saw a renaissance of Chenghua doucai wares under imperial patronage and exquisite vessels such as the present bowl were produced. See two closely related bowls; one sold in our London rooms, 13th July 2005, lot 257 and again in these rooms, 3rd October 2018, lot 3655; the other – or perhaps the same one – sold in these rooms, 14th November 1983, lot 168. Compare also two doucai bowls rendering figures in landscapes with multi-coloured clouds, but of wider form and with a flared rim; one with a figure painted in a somewhat similar manner to the present piece, recently sold in these rooms, 11th July 2020, lot 3611; the other, depicting the Three Star Gods of Daoism, preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (accession no. 643-1907).