Lot 3319. A magnificent and fine pair of Imperial famille rose peach dishes , Yongzheng six-character marks within double squares and of the period (1723-1735); 8 1/8 in. (20.7 cm.) diam. Estimate HK$40,000,000 - HK$60,000,000 ($5,182,908 - $7,774,362)Price Realized HK$46,040,000 ($5,965,527). © Christie's Image Ltd 2014

Each dish is thinly potted with low rounded sides rising from a shallow foot ring to an everted rim with a gently rounded edge. Both are superbly enamelled in varying shades of pink, green, brown, yellow, white, black and iron-red. Each of the exterior is designed with three peaches on growing on flowering branches beside two bats. The design continues over the rim and into the interior with a further five peaches and three bats, Japanese wood box. 

Provenance: Barbara Hutton (1912-1979)
Sold at Sotheby's London, 6 July 1971, lot 265
Bluett & Sons, London
Sold at Sotheby's London, 8 July 1974, lot 408
Hugh Moss
Sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 29 November 1977, lot 160
The British Rail Pension Fund
Sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 16 May 1989, lot 88

Literature: Sotheby's Hong Kong Twenty Years, Hong Kong, 1993, p. 202, no. 276

Exhibited: On loan at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1985-1988

Note: The present pair of dishes belongs to a group that are 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 second largest in size among the group, and similar to 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 largest 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. It is interesting to note that the reign marks of the largest dishes (those over 50cm diam.) are written within double-circles, and not rectangles as with the cited smaller examples.

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.

Christie's. The Imperial Sale / Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 28 May 2014