Previously sold in Sotheby's London, 6 April 1976, lot 137; Sotheby's Hong Kong, 3 May 1994, lot 191; and again in these Rooms, 29 April 2001, lot 608.
This type of flask is also known as magua ping (flask to be tied to a horse). It is recorded in the Yangxindian Zaobanchu gezuo huoji Qing dang (Qing dynasty archives relating to the crafts produced by the various Imperial Household Workshops of the Yangxindian), No. 3396, that in 1742, the court official Hai Wang received an order to "make a few drawings of this magua ping with underglaze-red dragons and underglaze-blue clouds over a white ground, to be passed on to Tang Ying in Jiangxi for several pieces to be fired according to them". The present vessel may have been among these recorded flasks.
Compare the present lot with other flasks with similar decoration and of approximately the same size, one from the Reitlinger Collection, illustrated by S. Jenyns, Later Chinese Porcelain, 1971, London, pl. XCIV, fig. 1; one from the Walters Collection, illustrated by S. Bushell, Oriental Ceramic Art, fig. 176; a slightly smaller one from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, included in the Exhibition of Chinese Ceramics, 1965, Catalogue, no. 116; and a larger flask is illustrated in The Tsui Museum of Art, Chinese Ceramics IV, Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 84.