Previously sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 24 March 1993, lot 513.
The present tray belongs to a group of Qianlong lacquers, almost invariably circular boxes and covers, with the large central Chun character, indicating that they were made for birthday celebrations or were commissioned by the emperor to be given away on the occasion of a birthday. The size of the boxes varies, but the composition remains the same for all boxes.
Compare a box and cover with the same design in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo Meishu Quanji, vol. 8, Lacquer, Beijing, 1989, pl. 172; one from the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, was included in the Special Exhibition of Palace Lacquer Objects, Taiwan, 1981, Catalogue no. 67, together with the Jiajing prototype of this box, no. 37; one from the Avery Brundage Collection, is illustrated by Sir Harry Garner, Chinese Lacquer, London, 1979, p. 148, fig. 90; an example from the Manno Art Museum was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 October 2002, lot 568 and again at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 11 April 2008, lot 2863.
For a Jiajing prototype of the 'Spring' boxes, see the Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Government Exhibits from the International Exhibition of Chinese Art in London, vol. IV, Miscellaneous, Nanjing, 1936, p. 87, fig. 4. It is interesting to note that the later Qianlong examples were specifically commissioned to emulate the quality and elaborate use of the different lacquer colours on the Ming prototypes.
No other tray of this design appears to have been published.