the interior delicately painted with clusters of narcissus growing amidst pierced underglaze-blue rocks beneath overhanging nandina berries, with a lingzhi fungus growing on one side, the exterior similarly decorated with three clusters of narcissus, nandina berries, and lingzhi fungus all evenly spaced out, the base inscribed with a six-character reign mark within double rings
This exquisitely painted and subtly coloured nature scene where underglaze and overglaze colours are interlaced in a complex, yet very harmonious pattern to form a naturalistic, three-dimensional picture, is arguably one of the most delightful paintings in the doucai palette. The combination of lingzhi, narcissus, nandina and rocks is used as a rebus that stands for 'fungus fairy bestows birthday greetings'; see The Hundred Flowers. Botanical Motifs in Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 1985, cat. no. 46. A similar pair of dishes from the T.Y. Chao collection was included in the exhibition Ming and Ch'ing Porcelain from the Collection of the T. Y. Chao Family Foundation, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1978, cat. no. 64, and sold in these rooms, 18th November 1986, lot 140; one from the Toguri Museum of Art, Tokyo, illustrated in Nakazawa Fujio, 'Chinese Ceramics in the Toguri Museum of Art', Orientations, April 1988, fig. 19, was sold in our London rooms, 9th June 2004, lot 4.
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