A set of four rare grisaille and pale iron-red-decorated deep dishes, De Cheng Zhai Zhi four-character hall marks in iron-red, Qianlong period  (1736-1795); 7 7/8 in. (20 cm.) diam. Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000. © Christie's Image Ltd 2008

Each with steep sides rising to a slightly flared, rounded rim, delicately decorated in a painterly technique in grisaille and shades of iron red with a different mountainous landscape scene, perhaps representing the four seasons, the mark written in a line on the base., box.

Provenance : Frank Caro/C.T. Loo, New York.
Property from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. James E. Breece III; Christie's, New York, 18 September 2003, lot 373.

Notes : The inscription on the base of these four dishes, De Cheng Zhai zhi, may be translated as 'Made for the Studio of Virtue and Honesty', and appears on porcelains ranging in date from the Qianlong to the Daoguang reigns. Geng Baochang notes in Ming Qing ciqi jianding, Beijing, 1993, p. 384, the appearance of the De Cheng Zhai mark on a dish from the Qianlong period decorated with grisaille landscapes.

The current dishes are closely related to a pair of similar Qianlong- period dishes in the collection of the Percival David Foundation, illustrated by R. Scott in Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art - A Guide to the Collection, London, 1989, p. 105, pl. 109. The David Foundation dishes and the current set are all of distinctive form with relatively deep rounded sides and sharply everted rims. They share the same treatment of the foot, and although the David Foundation dishes bear a different mark (Yayu Tang zhi) to that of the current quartet, the marks are all written in overglaze iron red, in a single vertical line, in precisely the same style of calligraphy.

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art. 17 September 2008. New York, Rockefeller Plaza. www.christies.com