Lot 858. A magnificent famille rose charger, Yongzheng six-character mark in underglaze blue within double circles and of the period (1723-1735); 20 in. (50.8 cm.) diam. Estimate USD 80,000 - USD 120,000. Price realised USD 437,500. © Christie's Image Ltd 2021
The dish is finely enamelled with two large peony blossoms, painted in shades of yellow and pink enamel, borne on blue and green enamelled branches, beside two tall, curved branches bearing buds and blossoms of magnolia and crabapple.
Provenance: Kay (1943-2020) and John P. (1942-2017) Harllee Collection, Bradenton, Florida.
Note: The present charger features the flowers peony (fuguihua), white magnolia (yulan), and crabapple (haitang). The first character of the word for peony (fu) and the second character of the word for crabapple (tang), form a rebus for the jade hall (yutang), and combined with peony, which represents wealth and honor, symbolize the expression futang yigui, ‘may your noble house be blessed with wealth and honor.’ (See T.T. Bartholomew, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, p. 153, 6.28.3.)
This charger belongs to a group of Yongzheng dishes, all of similarly large size, exquisitely painted with flowering or fruiting branches rising from the foot and turning over the mouth rim onto the interior. Their large size and exacting designs made them difficult to produce successfully, so only a small number were made during the Yongzheng period, and there are no known examples from the Qianlong period.
Although the general design remains unchanged, these dishes were all individually conceived, using different flowers and with variations in their arrangement. This style of decoration, which brought the flowering branch over the rim of a dish or bowl, is known as guozhihua, ('flowering branch passing over [the rim])' and was first developed in the latter years of the Ming dynasty in the second quarter of the seventeenth century. However, it was not until the Qing dynasty that this style of decoration seems to have gained popularity and specifically, imperial favor. It was in the Yongzheng period that the guozhihua style of decoration reached its peak, in terms of both accomplished execution and also of popularity at court, with finely enameled vessels of both large and small size decorated in this technique.
A Yongzheng dish in the Palace Museum, Beijing, enameled with prunus, bamboo, lingzhi, and camellia, is illustrated in Kangxi Yongzheng Qianlong, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 222, pl. 51; another with these flowers is in the Shanghai Museum, published in Chugoku toji zenshu, vol. 21, Kyoto, 1981, pl. 88; an example decorated with flowering and fruiting peach and tree peony from the Percival David Foundation, London, is illustrated by Rosemary Scott, Imperial Taste, Chinese Ceramics from the Percival David Foundation, San Francisco, 1989, no. 52; and another from the Su Lin An Collection, was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 31 October 1995, lot 329. See, also, a Yongzheng-marked famille rose dish of similar size and quality decorated with prunus, bamboo, lingzhi, and camellia, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 28 November 2006, lot 1557 (Fig. 1), and a dish decorated with camellia, peonies and magnolia sold at Bonhams London, 5 November 2020, lot 37.
Fig. 1. A magnificent imperial famille rose charger, Yongzheng six-character mark within double circles and of the period (1723-1735); 19 7/8 in. (50.6 cm.) diam. Estimate HKD 5,000,000 - HKD 8,000,000. Price realised HKD 9,640,000 at Christie’s Hong Kong, 28 November 2006, lot 1557. © Christie's Image Ltd 2006