The succession of power from Emperor to Prince, from father to son, is well-represented in Qing dynasty works of art and paintings. This visual representation indicates the importance vested in the passing of knowledge from father to son and in anticipating the transfer of the mandate of heaven. The theme is most famously represented in the painting by Giuseppe Castiglione (Lang Shining) known as Spring's Peaceful Message, in the Palace Museum Collection, Beijing. It depicts the Yongzheng Emperor with Prince Hongli (the future Qianlong Emperor). The young Prince is shown smaller than the Emperor, bowing slightly, and looking respectfully up at his father as the two men exchange a spray of prunus, while behind and to the side there are bamboo stems.
However, the subject also appears to have been represented in more subtle allusions to the theme. A pair of cloisonné enamel double crane censers sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 1 December 2010, for example, are thought to have been commissioned by the Prince Hongli for his father, the Yongzheng Emperor. The cranes are modelled standing next to one another, one larger than the other, the smaller crane looking up at the larger one in respect or admiration, much in the same way as in Castiglione's painting.
On the current meiping, the allusion is in the two dragons, one larger and one smaller, that represents the passing of knowledge from father to son. The sophisticated design and very successful firing of the copper-red indicates the vase is likely to have been produced in the first quarter of the 18th century, thus representing the Yongzheng Emperor passing knowledge to his son, the future Emperor Qianlong.
No other meiping decorated with dragons from the Yongzheng reign appears to be recorded, however, there are a number of vessels from the Qianlong reign decorated with two dragons, one usually larger than the other. Examples include a Qianlong-marked turquoise-ground baluster vase originally sold at Sotheby's New York, 20-21 May 1987, lot 555. An ovoid vase from the Huaihaitang Collection with the dragons depicted against a white background between turquoise ground borders, was exhibited at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Ethereal Elegance - Porcelain Vases Of The Imperial Qing - The Huaihaitang Collection, November 2007-March 2008 and illustrated in the catalogue, no. 123. Another example with dragons against a white ground between turquoise borders from the collection of J. Lester Jervis, was sold at Bonhams Hong Kong, 28 November 2011, lot 457.