A fine Famille-Verte coral-ground floral bowl. Yu Zhi mark and period of Yongzheng Photo Sotheby's

finely potted with translucent round sides supported on a slightly splayed foot, the exterior delicately painted with meadow flowers, naturalistically rendered in great detail in red, blue, two kinds of green, pale yellow and black enamels, reserved on an overall ground of dark orange-red enamel, the interior left undecorated, the base inscribed with a four-character underglaze blue mark Yongzheng yu zhi ('made to imperial order in the Yongzheng period') within a double square; 14.8 cm., 5 7/8 in. Estimate 3,000,000-5,000,000 HKD

LITERATURE: Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, no. 905.

NOTE: This bowl is a very rare and unusual example of a well-known group of wares, among the largest of its type and different in proportion from the conventional pattern. Bowls with this type of lush flower decoration on a coral-red ground, which were made around the late Kangxi and early Yongzheng period and revived in the Qianlong reign, are known with Kangxi and Yongzheng yu zhi, Yongzheng nian zhi, six-character Yongzheng marks and Qianlong seal marks; examples of these various types, all smaller in size, taller in proportion and flared, are illustrated in The Tsui Museum of Art. Chinese Ceramics IV: Qing Dynasty, Hong Kong, 1995 pls. 158-60 and 166. A similar large bowl from the British Rail Pension Fund, sold in these rooms, 16th May 1989, lot 73, is illustrated in Sotheby's. Thirty Years in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2003, pl. 318. A comparable but much smaller cup of this design and reign mark is in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, perhaps also unique, illustrated in Gugong Qing ci tulu. Kangxi yao, Yongzheng yao / Illustrated Catalogue of Ch'ing Dynasty Porcelain in the National Palace Museum, Republic of China: K'ang-hsi Ware and Yung-cheng Ware, Tokyo, 1980, pl. 101.

The use of the phrase yu zhi ['made to imperial order'] suggests a closer relationship to the imperial court than the regular wording nian zhi [made in the period of...] and follows the style of marking used at the imperial enamelling workshops in Beijing, which applied yu zhi marks in enamel colours. A Kangxi example with a pink enamel yu zhi mark, probably enamelled in Beijing, was also in the Tsui Museum of Art and is published op. cit., pl. 123. The underglaze-blue yu zhi marks were of course added before firing at the Jingdezhen kilns, where bowls such as the present one would have been enamelled.

For the characteristic Kangxi prototypes see also the pair of bowls from the Meiyintang and formerly the T.Y. Chao collection, illustrated in Krahl, op. cit., vol. 4, no. 1724, and sold in these rooms, 7th April 2011, lot 4; and for a Yongzheng yu zhi bowl of the typical flared form and smaller size compare the piece from the Charles Russell, H.M. Knight, A.O. Blishen and Beatrice and Henry Goldschmidt collections, illustrated in Hugh Moss, By Imperial Command. An Introduction to Ch'ing Imperial Painted Enamels, Hong Kong, 1976, pl. 75, and sold four times in our rooms, in London 1935, in New York 1983, in Hong Kong 1990, and once more in London, 18th November 1998, lot 870.

Sotheby's. The Meiyintang Collection, Part III - An Important Selection of Imperial Chinese Porcelains. Hong Kong | 04 Apr 2012, 10:15 AM www.sothebys.com