finely potted with shallow rounded sides resting on a short foot, delicately enamelled to the exterior with sprays of pink peony and blue aster, the peony slender stems extending over the tip into the interior issuing luscious blooms interspersed with tight and opening buds, the peony blossoms exquisitely coloured in shaded tones of pink and yellow, and the leaves rendered in rich tones of light and dark green, the veining delicately picked out in fine black lines, the base inscribed with the six-character seal-mark in underglaze-blue within double circles
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 25th November 1981, lot 284.
Christie's Hong Kong, 2nd November 1999, lot 557.
Yongzheng dishes decorated in this painterly fashion, with the flowers superbly placed and naturalistic in their depiction, represent the zenith of enameling on porcelain during the early Qing period. The use of the 'new' famille-rose colours changed the style of decoration, allowing artists to be more meticulous and thorough in their shapes and tones and giving the design a much wider variety of colour combinations. Designs became detailed, natural and well balanced in a delicate manner. Decoration during Yongzheng's reign is often praised for its simplicity and restrained elegance. It is generally less crowded in composition and avoids symmetry. White ground is used to enhance the design and to soften the colours. It is also a natural setting for painterly decorations such as that found on this piece.
This dish represents the Yongzheng emperor's fondness for naturalistic rendering of flowering plants in a well thought out space. The design is most elegant in a restrained manner. The closest comparable example to the present piece is a slighlty larger dish, formerly in the Russell collection and now in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, illustrated in Jan Wirgin, Chinese Ceramics from the Axel and Nora Lundgren Bequest, Stockholm, 1978, col. pl. 8. Another much larger dish (d.50 cm) is in the Palace Museum, Beijing, included in The Complete Collection of Treasures in the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 57, together with two chrysanthemum dishes painted in famille-rose, pls. 58-59.
The technique, in which the branches enamelled on the interior extend over the rim and into the exterior, also appear on famille rose 'peach' dishes; see a large Yongzheng 'peach' dish, from the Qing Court collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures in the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 56.
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