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A SUPERBLY DECORATED FAMILLE VERTE 'BIRTHDAY' DISH ENCIRCLED KANGXI SIX-CHARACTER MARK AND OF THE PERIOD The finely potted dish is delicately enamelled in green, brown and iron-red with a bird perched on a branch of flowering peony beside an outcrop of rocks and flowers; the centre is decorated in anhua with two five-clawed dragons incised with a border of classic scroll and a band of rinceaux at the well, the medallion is inscribed in anhua with four archaistic characters hong fu qi tian (happiness as vast as the heavens), and incised around the well with ruyi lappets, the everted rim is enamelled in iron-red with 'one hundred bats' (section of rim polished) 7 5/8 in. (19.5 cm.) diam., box
Chinese Porcelain, The S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Catalogue, vol. 2, no. 82.
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Chinese Porcelain, The S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, 1987.
Christie's London, An Exhibition of Important Chinese Ceramics from the Robert Chang Collection, 2-14 June 1993, Catalogue, no. 32.

Lot Essay

This lot belongs to a series of dishes with highly auspicious decorations. In the present example, the border is intricately painted inside the rim with 'one hundred bats'. Although the incised decoration is often obscured by the enamel design, the inscription is important for the attribution of the dish where the incised characters hong fu qi tian represents an imperial birthday greeting. A number of dishes with similar inscriptions are known and they are all believed to have been made for the sixtieth birthday of the Kangxi emperor in 1713, and are often referred to as the 'Birthday Service.' According to R. E. Scott in For the Imperial Court: Qing Porcelain from the Percival David Foundation, 1997, p. 48, it seems unlikely that these porcelain items were actually used by the guests at the imperial birthday celebrations but were probably presented to each guest to be kept as family heirlooms. A similar dish from the David Foundation, depicting a bird perched on a fruiting apricot tree is illustrated ibid, p. 49, pl. I.

Most of these 'birthday' dishes are decorated with birds on fruiting or flowering branches, such as the example from the Jingguangtang and Barbara Hutton Collections sold in these Rooms, 3 November 1996, lot 586, with an eagle perched on the branch of a fruiting ginko tree inscribed with wanshou wujiang on the rim. Other variations of the design include ducks in a lotus pond, birds in flight, and more unusually, Daoist fairies.



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