Peach dishes, both large and small, may be found in important collections around the world, all with varying compositions of the same elements: the two tree branches of different tones rise from the foot of the dish and emerge over the edge into the interior, heavily laden with eight ripe peaches and five bats in flight scattered around the design. The imagery of the design is highly auspicious as the peaches are traditionally symbolic of immortality, while the five bats, wufu, are homophonous with the Five Blessings of long life, wealth, peace, love of virtue and a good end to one's life.
The bowls and dishes enamelled with this design are among the finest products of the Imperial kilns of the Yongzheng and Qianlong reigns. However, there appear to be two different groups among the smaller dishes of the same size as on the present lot. Dishes with marks within double squares, such as the present example, are invariably of superb quality, thin bodied and with exceptionally fine quality of enamelling. Dishes with encircled marks vary slightly in quality in the potting and enamelling techniques.
Similar examples to the present lot are found in several collections in Europe: one in the British Museum, bequeathed by Reginald R. Cory, is illustrated in Oriental Ceramics, Kodansha Series, vol. 5, Tokyo, 1982, no. 226; another is in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, illustrated loc. cit., vol. 9, no. 98; while a Qianlong-marked example is in the Grandidier Collection in the Musée Guimet, loc. cit., vol. 7, no. 50. Examples in America include one in the Asia Society Handbook of the Mr and Mrs John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, p. 82; at the China Institute in America exhibition, Selections of Chinese Art from Private Collections, 1986, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 8; and the dish in Chicago, included in the Exhibition of Masterpieces of Chinese Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago, Japan, 1989, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 94. Another in a permanent Japanese collection in Tokyo, was included in the Exhibition of Famous Pieces of Chinese Pottery and Porcelain in the Matsuoka Museum of Art, Osaka, 1983, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 84. See also examples recorded in the Tianjin Museum of Art, illustrated in Chugoku Toji Zenshu, vol. 21, pl. 98; one illustrated by R. Krahl, Chinese Ceramics, The S. C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, vol. II, Hong Kong, 1987, p. 146, no. 104; one recorded by A. du Boulay, Christie's Pictorial History, p. 242, no. 3; and the example included in An Exhibition of Important Chinese Ceramics from the Robert Chang Collection, Christie's London, 1993, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 92. A smaller pair of dishes (13.4 cm. diam.) from the T. Y. Chao Collection, Part II, was sold in Hong Kong, 19 May 1987, lot 312.
Larger dishes were also painted in this pattern. Cf. one in the Percival David Foundation, illustrated by R. Scott, A Guide to the Collection, London, 1989, no. 111; one in the Victoria and Albert Museum, illustrated by J. Ayers, Far Eastern Ceramics, London, 1980, pl. 63; and another sold in these Rooms, 26 April 1999, lot 541.