The pair to the present lot from the collection of Sam'l C. Davis was sold separately in our New York rooms, 26th November 1991, lot 356, and published in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 4, pt. II, London, 2010, pl. 1749, and sold in these rooms, 7th April 2011, lot 7. Three further bowls were sold in these rooms, a pair, 15th May 1990, lot 286; and a single bowl, 11th April 2008, lot 2834.
The design of fruiting branches references two of the Yongzheng Emperor's passions: his reverence of antiquity and his love of auspicious symbols, both of which surrounded his residences and belongings. The present design, with sprays of fruiting finger citron, lychee and pomegranate, represents a variation of the auspicious sanduo (‘three abundances’) motif, as harbingers of endless long life, an abundance of offspring and plentiful blessings. The pomegranate bursting with seeds symbolises the wish for plentiful offspring; the lychee, with its Chinese name, lizhi, is homophonous with the phrase ‘establish a son’ (lizi) and represents abundance of offspring; and the finger citron, often referred to as 'the Buddha's hand' is an emblem of longevity, happiness and good fortune. They have been rendered in a style reminiscent of Chenghua doucai prototypes in an acknowledgement of the technique pioneered during the Ming Emperor's reign; compare a bowl decorated with medallions of fruiting branches, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Special Exhibition of Ch'eng-hua Porcelain Ware, 1465-1487, Taipei, 2003, cat. no. 151.
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