No other bowl of this design appears to have been published. This bowl is one of the masterpieces of enamelled wares from the Kangxi period and is the prototype for later Yongzheng and Qianlong examples. The bowl demonstrates a mastery of Western enamelling techniques using a combination of opaque colours and contrasting these against an exceptionally brilliant ground colour. According to the archives of the Imperial workshops, the finest quality porcelain potted at Jingdezhen were selected and sent to the Imperial workshops in Beijing where master craftsmen of the Imperial Academy enamelled the vessels with designs previously approved by the Emperor, Chinese Porcelain: The S. C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, vol. II, p. 135.
Stylistically there appears to be three preferred painting styles on Kangxi yuzhi bowls. The first utilises the arrangement of floral sprays within cartouches against a coloured ground such as the bowl in the National Palace Museum, Taibei, illustrated in Fine Enamelled Ware of the Ch'ing Dynasty, Hong Kong, 1967, p. 33, pl. 4. The second group employs a variety of scrolling floral blooms, see op. cit., p. 42, pls. 9, 10, and 11. The third group, to which the present lot belongs, depicts floral designs in a continuous naturalistic handscroll format achieved by contrasting two-toned colours, subtle shading and a more precise use of detailed outlines. Among the three groups, this is perhaps the most appealing. The painting style is highly naturalistic, illustrating flowering plants in their various stages of development including natural organic decomposition, in the present lot as by the use of yellow and brown enamels to portray decaying lotus leaves. The addition of worm-eaten holes further enhances the realistic pictorial imagery.
The success of the composition of the subject matter on a three-dimensional, curved surface demonstrates the consumate skill of a master craftsman. The lotus blooms of varying sizes are evenly balanced with their stems interspersed with lotus leaves and interrupted by thinner water weeds. Reminiscent of middle Ming period landscape painting, the whole scene suggests a panoramic view, and in this case it is telescoped into a narrow strip representing the surface of a lotus pond. The Emperor would have treasured these wares rather than used them. Evidently, this horizontal style of design prevailed into the Yongzheng period of which the small Yongzheng wine cup sold in these Rooms, 26 April 1999, lot 535, is an excellent example.
Although no other yuzhi bowl of this exact pattern is known, other related examples with this naturalistic painting style are published. A shallow bowl in the National Palace Museum, Taibei, with a continuous panorama of a lotus pond is illustrated in Fine Enamelled Ware of the Ch'ing Dynasty: K'ang-hsi Period, pl. 23. Compare with another naturalistically painted yuzhi marked cup, formerly in the Barbara Hutton Collection, but with a yellow ground, sold in these Rooms, 3 November 1998, lot 960. Both of these show the versatility in design and composition which the Qing court artists were able to produce in the Kangxi period. See the teapot and matching cup of the Yongzheng period in the Percival David Foundation, illustrated by R. Scott, Imperial Taste, no. 53, where the painting style is different in the details and treatment of the flowers.