Archaism is a popular theme on ceramics made for the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors, and often great efforts were made to copy glazes, forms and decoration from earlier periods. In this example, the Qing potters found inspiration in the exquisite, subtle doucai pieces of the Chenghua period (1465-1487), such as the Chenghua prototype excavated at the imperial kiln site in Zhushan, illustrated in A Legacy of Chenghua, Hong Kong, 1993, pp. 310-311, no. C111.
According to Tang Ying zouzhe, 'Memorials by Tang Ying', on the 19th day of the 6th month in the 9th year of the Qianlong reign (1743), Tang Ying received a Chenghua tian jar and cover from the Palace workshops, and was given the instruction to touch up on the glaze flakes, but apprehensive of the possible detrimental outcome of firing an earlier piece in a contemporay kiln, Tang Ying instead had three pairs of jars and covers made in inmitation of the original Chenghua prototype.
For a very similar Yongzheng example with cover in the Shanghai Museum, see Lu Minghua, Ming Dynasty Ceramics, Studies of the Shanghai Museum Collections, Shanghai, 2007, p. 299, fig. 5-37. Although Mr. Lu states a number of Chenghua-style doucai jars with Tian, 'Heaven', character of varying designs and sizes were made during the Yongzheng period, the present type appears to be rare and very few have been published. Compare also a Yongzheng-marked lidded jar closely copying a Chenghua example, illustrated in Porcelains in Polychrome and Contrasting Colours, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 233, no. 214.