A Fine 'Doucai' 'Nandina Berry' Dish, Yongzheng mark and period

of shallow form with gently curved sides, painted to the interior with red-berried nandina hovering across a bed of narcissus among two rock formations and a small cluster of lingzhi, enclosed by a double-ring in underglaze-blue, the exterior decorated with three groups of colorful lingzhi with bamboo, lingzhi with narcissus, and nandina, among rockwork, all atop a short foot. diameter 8 in., 20.3 cm. Estimate 100,000—150,000 USD

Property from the collection of Doctor and Madame Ho-Ching Yang

NOTE: Yongzheng mark and period doucai dishes of this type, delicately painted with flowering branches of red-berried nandina, lingzhi fungus and white narcissus can be found in a number of important museums and private collections around the world. Classical legends tell the tale of Emperor Minghuang (712-756) of the Tang dynasty (618-907) who presented twelve pots of narcissus to Lady Guoguo, the sister of his beloved concubine Yang Guifei. The flower's simplicity and beauty has been much admired for centuries and narcissus have become a favorite motif in the Chinese decorative repertoire. Narcissus combined with rocks and lingzhi fungus form the phrase 'zhixian zhushou' which can be translated as 'the fungus fairy brings birthday greetings'. Hence, dishes of this design have traditionally been made as birthday gifts or used on special celebratory occasions.

A similar Yongzheng dish was included in the exhibition The Hundred Flowers. Botanical Motifs in Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 1985, cat. no. 46; another is illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. II, London, 1994, pl. 765; a third piece from the Chang Foundation is published in James Spencer, Selected Chinese Ceramics from Han to Qing Dynasties, Taipei, 1990, pl. 137; and a pair was included in the exhibition Ming and Ch'ing Porcelain from the T.Y. Chao Family Foundation, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1978, pp. 60-61, cat. no. 64, where it is mentioned that 'the pattern of these dishes is among the finest of the tou ts'ai wares of the Yung Cheng period, when the Ming palette was revived not only for the pieces made in the earlier style but used for new designs'.

Sotheby's. Chinese Works of Art. 17 Mar 09.New York www.sothebys.com Photo courtesy Sotheby's