Nan Tucker McEvoy (1919-2015) was a newspaper heiress who lead the parent company of the San Francisco Chronicle in the last quarter of the 20th century. Born in Northern California and later taking up residence in Washington D.C., she was appointed as the first woman to chair the Governing Board of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Born into the news industry, her grandfather, M. H. de Young, created the Chronicle with his brother in 1865, and she worked as a reporter at the newspaper in her younger years. Starting in the 1990s she created the McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, California, growing it into one of the country’s premier producers of olive oil. A prolific advocate for the causes that she believed in, Ms. McEvoy was a founding member of the Peace Corps and board member of countless organizations, including the University of California, San Francisco, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Symphony, and she maintained a journalistic spirit throughout her life.
The decoration of five bats, which is so finely carved on this bowl, represents the wufu (the Five Blessings): longevity, wealth, health, love of virtue and a peaceful death. According to Teresa Tse Bartholomew, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 2006, p. 23, no. 1.1.6, "five bats also can express the idea 'May the five blessings descend upon this home' (lufu linmen), which would be a fitting wish for a newly married couple, and fitting decoration for a wedding gift."
White jade vessels of this shape, with a spout on one side, are variously known as pouring vessels, marriage bowls or brush washers. Several published examples similarly include five bats (wufu) in the decoration. One of peach shape, that also has a bat spanning the spout and is carved around the sides with a leafy branch as well as four further bats, was sold at Christie's New York, 22-23 March 2012, lot 1920. Another in the same sale, lot 1885, also of peach shape, is raised on three small bat-form feet and has two small bat-form handles. Three others of peach shape with bat-form handles suspending loose rings are also published: one raised on four similar feet was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 27 November 2007, lot 1539; one was sold at Christie's New York, 15 September 2009, lot 140; and one in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated by Yang Boda in Chinese Jades Throughout the Ages - Connoisseurship of Chinese Jades, vol. 12, Qing Dynasty, pp. 140-41, pl. 70, where one can see that it is similarly raised on four ruyi-head feet.