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A superb rare pair of famille rose 'peach' dishes. Yongzheng six-character marks within double-squares and of the period. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010

Each dish thinly potted with low rounded sides rising from a shallow foot ring to a flaring rim with a gently rounded edge, finely enamelled in shades of pink, green, brown, yellow, white, black and iron-red, the exterior with three peaches on flowering branches besides two bats, the design continuing over the rim to the interior with a further five peaches and three bats - 5 1/4 in. (13.4 cm.) diam., box (2). Estimate HK$8,000,000 - HK$10,000,000 ($1,035,386 - $1,294,233) Price Realized HK$16,340,000 ($2,114,777)

清雍正 粉彩過枝福壽雙全盤一對 雙方框雙行六字楷書款

盤敞口,弧壁,圈足。盤心繪一株蒼茂的桃樹沿盤壁蜿蜒伸展至外壁,枝上有盛開的桃花和花蕾,八顆嫣紅的桃實,五顆在盤內,三顆在盤外,渾然連成一體。五隻蝙蝠翩翩飛舞其中。底足青花雙方框內書「大清雍正年製」楷書款。

此對盤形態嬌小,造型端莊秀雅。運用過枝花的手法在白底上從器外壁起畫,經過口沿,延續到器內壁,繪八桃五蝠,取「洪福齊天」、「福壽雙全」之意。此畫法興起於雍正時期,一直影響及道光。粉彩始創於康熙,到了雍正朝,無論在造型、施釉和彩繪方面,都得到了空前的發展,此器正是其中一例。雍正時期一般繪八桃,乾隆時多繪九桃,故有「雍八乾九」之說。

雍正時期粉彩繪八桃、五蝠的瓷盤以尺寸來看可歸為四類,如此器口徑只有13.4公分的,為同類中最小的一種,是目前傳世品中的孤品。

此器來源有緒,原為美國著名藏家BarbaraHutton的私人珍藏,後由趙從衍收藏,1987年5月19日於香港蘇富比趙從衍基金會專拍中拍賣,拍品312號。在由趙從衍收藏前,此器於1971年7月6日於倫敦蘇富比拍賣,拍品249號,1978年11月29日再次於香蘇富比拍賣,拍品315號。

Provenance: Barbara Hutton
Previously sold at Sotheby's London, 6 July 1971, lot 249
T.Y. Chao Private and Family Trust Collections of Important Chinese Ceramics and Jade Carvings: Part II, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 19 May 1987, lot 312

Notes: The present pair of dishes belongs to a group that are similarly decorated with a total of eight peaches growing flowering branches and accompanied by five bats, forming the auspicious wufu, from the Yongzheng period. Some of these dishes bear a six-character reign mark within double-squares as in the case of the present examples, or on others the marks appear within double-circles.

Peach dishes appear in four differing sizes, the present dishes are the smallest among the group (13.4 cm. diam.) and these are the only examples of this measurement. The next size is the slightly larger (15.8 cm. diam.) example from the Tianminlou Foundation, illustrated in Chinese Porcelain, The S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Hong Kong, 1987, vol. 1, no. 104; and this dish is also unique in its size. Third size measures approximately 20 cm. in diameter and examples of these include the dish in the Nanjing Museum, illustrated by P. Lam in Qing Imperial Porcelain, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1995, no. 62 (21 cm.); a dish in the British Museum collection, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics, The World's Great Collections, vol. 5, Kodansha series, 1981, no. 226 (20.6 cm.); and from the John M. Crawford, Au Bank Ling and Robert Chang collections, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 27 October 2003, lot 665 (20.9 cm.). For examples of larger dishes of this pattern, see Far Eastern Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Kodansha series, 1980, col. pl. 63 (50.5 cm.); and in the Beijing Palace Museum, illustrated in Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, the Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Commercial Press, 1999, p. 66, no. 56. The reign marks of the larger dishes are written within double-circles.

It is characteristic of Yongzheng porcelains with decoration of fruiting and flowering branches that the painter starts the design at the exterior foot of the dish and then continues it over the rim and into the interior. This device is known in Chinese as guozhihua, and on dishes with this peach and bat motif, the exterior and interior may be 'read' together to form an overall significance of the design. Decoration of this type provides a design challenge in order to obtain a harmoniously balanced result. The current dishes are particularly successful in this regard. The decorator has made full use of the contrast between the white body and the vibrant enamels.

It is believed by many scholars that this particular design was applied to vessels made for the celebration of imperial birthdays. The composition of eight peaches and five bats is very auspicious. The eight peaches symbolise extended long life through their association Shoulao, the Star God of the Longevity, and also through association with the peaches of longevity grown in the orchard of the Queen Mother of the West. The five red bats provide rebuses both for good fortune and for the Five Blessings of longevity, health, love of virtue and a peaceful death. This decorative pattern is also known as guoqiangzhi that suggests the sound of changzhi, meaning long peace under good government, which would provide a compliment to the emperor and a wish for his reign to be a long one.

Christie's. The Imperial Sale Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art. 31 May 2010 . Hong Kong www.christies.com