The use of background enamel colors with a scrolling, lattice or leiwen design incised through the enamel before firing, came to prominence on fine enamel porcelains during the Qianlong reign. The colors of these graviata enamels varied, with deep pink or ruby pink, blue and yellow being amongst the most frequently seen. One can see a ruby pink and a blue graviata ground on a vase with cover with Qianlong mark that is molded in the form of two adjoined vases, illustrated in Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong: Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 378, no. 59.
The pale lime-green enamel graviata ground of the present box is far more unusual, and the decoration of butterflies reserved on the ground is also rare. Butterflies combined with scattered flowers symbolizes joy, love and good fortune. This same auspicious motif can be seen in larger format reserved on a pink graviata ground on a Qianlong vase formerly in the collection of John Morrison, Fontill House, England, illustrated by S. Jenyns, Later Chinese Porcelain, London, 1951, pl. CVI (2), and now the property of the Ping Y. Tai Foundation to be sold in our Hong Kong rooms in December.