This group of rare dishes typify the delicate elegance of the finest Yongzheng porcelains. Indeed, most scholars agree that these dishes were among the wares made at the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen and then sent, undecorated, to the court at Beijing to be inspected and approved, before being given to the imperial ateliers in the palace to be decorated.
Flower forms were regularly adopted with great success by Chinese potters as early as the Song dynasty. In the Yongzheng reign, the chrysanthemum form became especially popular with the court and was produced with a number of monochrome glazes. This form continued to find favour in the succeeding Qianlong period. It is intereting to to note that the chrysanthemum form of the current dish has been slightly modified from that seen on monochrome wares. The number of petals has been reduced in a more gently undulating style. Undoubtedly these sensitive modifications were made in order that the form should complement the enamelled decoration without detracting from it.
The peony spray on the interior of the dish is beautifully painted. The opaque white enamel allowed the decorator to build up and shade the petals of the flowers, when used in conjunction with the clear pink made from colloidal gold. These colours were developed by craftsmen in the imperial workshops during the reigns of the Kangxi and Yongzheng emperors. These dishes are testament to their success.
The porcelain decorator of these dishes has achieved a particularly pleasing counterpoint between the opaque colours of the flowers and the translucent colours of the leaves. As is often the case on these dishes, the main bloom is a pink peony, with half-opened bud also in pink, and no other coloured flowers are depicted. Two of this small group of chrysanthemum-shaped Yongzheng dishes with finely painted flowers are illustrated in the Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pls 58-9. It is very rare to have peonies in different colours, amidst magnolias and daisies all on a chrysanthemum-shaped dish. A very similarly decorated but larger Yongzheng chrysanthemum-shaped dish sold in Christie's, Hong Kong, 27 April 1997, lot 60.