Lot 1874. A magnificent pair of famille rose 'peony' bowls, Yongzheng six-character marks within double-circles and of the period (1723-1735); 4 in. (10.1 cm.) diam. Estimate HK$7,000,000 - HK$10,000,000. Price realised HKD 21,940,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2010
The exterior of each bowl is intricately detailed in shades of pink, iron-red, yellow, pale green and turquoise-green enamels to depict two bees in flight above leafy branches bearing peony and magnolia blossoms at varying stages of maturity, entwined with a cluster of smaller daisy flowers.
Provenance: The Doris Duke Collection, by repute
Chait Galleries, New York, acquired by the present owner in 1970.
Note: Compare a bowl of slightly larger proportions decorated with five peony blossoms from the collection of K. L. Essayan sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 29 April 2002, lot 567 and again 28 November 2005, lot 1349; and its pair from the same collection sold at Sotheby's London, 2 March 1971, lot 195, and again, at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 29 November 1976, lot 626, and illustrated by Daisy Lion-Goldschmidt and Jean-Claude Moreau-Gobard, Chinese Art, pl. 163. Another pair of larger but very similarly decorated Yongzheng bowls were sold at Parke-Bernet Galleries, Liquidation of the Entire Stock of the New York store of Yamanaka & Co. Inc., 24-27 May 1944, lot 288. Other related bowls include a pair of the same size but with straight sides, sold at Christie's New York, 3 June 1993, lot 294; and another painted with yellow and white peonies in the Baur collection, illustrated by J. Ayers, The Baur Collection, Vol. 2, Geneva, 1999, p. 115, pl. A599. A pair of closely related bowls to those in the Baur collection was sold at Christie's New York, 3 June 1993, lot 294. A larger Yongzheng-marked bowl attributed to the Palace Workshops in Beijing with very similar elements but slight differences in the composition is illustrated by H. Moss, By Imperial Command, Hong Kong, 1976, pl. 63. Compare also a related bowl of identical size to the present example decorated with chrysanthemum rather than peony, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 7 May 2002, lot 535. For a Qianlong-marked bowl of the same pattern but without the magnolia, compare a bowl sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 31 October 2000, lot 909.
During the Yongzheng period, enamellers at the palace workshops concentrated on improving their techniques and skills in painting enamels on porcelain, and in only a short period of time, they were able to achieve high artistic standards which have never been surpassed. Formal bands of floral decoration gave way to more naturalistic compositions on white ground, giving emphasis to the pureness of the porcelain and the painterly manner in which the motifs have been rendered. This is the case on the present bowl with the design of peonies in full bloom with yellow enamel stippled centers resembling pollen to attract the two bees hovering above.