A fine 'famille-rose' 'Peach' bowl, mark and period of Yongzheng

Lot 104. A fine 'famille-rose' 'Peach' bowl, mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735); 14.5cm., 5 3/4 in. Estimate 400,000 — 500,000 GBP. Lot sold 725,600 GBP. Photo: Sotheby's 2007

the delicately potted deep rounded sides rising from a short straight foot to an everted rim, finely enamelled around the exterior with two iron-red bats in flight above leafy fruiting and blossoming peach boughs, each of the four large ripe fruit delicately shaded from pink to lime-green, the boughs with leaves in two tones of green enamel tinged with blue extending around and over the rim into the interior with two more large fruit and three soaring bats forming the wufu. 

Provenance: Sotheby's Hong Kong, 14th November 1989, lot 315.
Collection of the Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong.
Christie's Hong Kong, 26th April 1999, lot 539, from the Jinguantang Collection.

LiteratureThe Tsui Museum of Art. Chinese Ceramics IV. Qing Dynasty, Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 155. 

Note: This exquisite design of painted fruiting and flowering branches which rise from the foot and turn over the rim onto the inside, is peculiar to the Yongzheng period. The bowl is a masterpiece which involved the highest level of technical and artistic skills on the part of the artist who produced a piece of absolutely flawless quality. Bowls of this type appear to have been produced for only a short time and although a number of related examples are recorded, they are all individually rendered and the execution and layout of the design varies considerably from piece to piece. The present bowl is particularly delicate in its decorative concept and is perhaps most closely related in its painterly style to the famous Yongzheng vase from the Ogden collection sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 7th May 2002, lot 532. Both the vase and the present bowl have the subtle gradations of the shaded pink and pale green enamels to depict the skin of the peach, and the brilliance of the tones of translucent green and turquoise used for the long pointed leaves.


Famille-rose enamelled ‘Peach’ vase, Qing dynasty, Yongzheng mark and period. The Collections of Dr. Alice Cheng and Hon. Ogden R. Reid. Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 7th May 2002, lot 532. The Collection of Shanghai Museum.

For comparable examples see a pair of Yongzheng mark and period bowls illustrated in John Ayers, The Baur Collection, Geneva. Chinese Ceramics. vol. IV, Geneva, 1974, pl. A594 and pl. 595; another pair was included in the exhibition Chinese Ceramic Art, Bronze, Jade etc., Yamanaka & Co., London, 1938, cat.no. 116, pl. 12; a third pair, formerly in the Eisei Bunko, Tokyo, is now separated, one bowl being published in Sekai toji zenshu, vol. 12, Tokyo, col. pl. 11, its pair in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. II, London, 1994, pl. 960; and another companion piece to the present bowl, from the Moncrieff and Woodthorpe collections, sold in these rooms, 21st February 1961, lot 171, illustrated in The Tsui Museum of Art. Chinese Ceramics IV. Qing Dynasty, Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 154.

See also a related pair of Yongzheng bowls from the Mercher and Crawford collections, of more widely flared form and with three peaches inside and five outside, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 24th May 1978, lot 252; and the Yongzheng bowl from the Edward T. Chow collection, with five fruits outside and none inside, illustrated in Cecile and Michel Beurdeley, La Ceramique Chinoise, Fribourg, 1974, col. pls. 86 and 87, and sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 25th November 1980, lot 169.  

Apart from its very naturalistic depiction of the design, the 'peach and bats' decoration is also among the richest in its symbolism. The peach, one of the three fruits of the sanduo ‘Three Abundances’ together with the pomegranate and finger citron, has long been associated with Shoulao, the God of Longevity. It is also a fruit commonly found as one of the fruits of the Four Seasons, together with cherry, pomegranate and persimmon. The idea conveyed here is a blessing for long life which continues for many springs. Another component of the peach design is the flying bats, a pun on fu (bat) which is a homophone of fu (prosperity). The complete meaning of the peach design therefore conveys a wish of happiness for the Emperor who is to enjoy a long reign and remain forever youthful.  

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, London, 16 May 2007