Previously sold at Sotheby's New York, 23 September 1997, lot 343.
Qianlong-marked 'peach' dishes of this type are found in museum collections: one in the Beijing Palace Museum, illustrated in Kangxi Yongzheng Qianlong, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 344, pl. 25; one in the Nanjing Museum, included in the exhibition Qing Imperial Porcelain of Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong Reigns, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1995, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 100; one in the Musee Guimet, Paris, published in Oriental Ceramics, The World's Great Collections, Kodansha Series, vol. 7, Japan, 1981, col. pl. 50; and another example formerly in the collection of W. T. Walters and now in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, is illustrated by S. Bushell, Oriental Ceramic Art, London, 1981, fig. 249 (right). Compare also with the Yongzheng prototype, such as the one sold in these Rooms, 27 October 2003, lot 665.
It is believed that this particular design was applied to vessels made for the celebration of imperial birthdays, as the composition of eight peaches and five bats is very auspicious. The peaches symbolise extended long life through their association with Shoulao, the Star God of Longevity, and also through the association with the peaches of longevity grown in the orchard of the Queen Mother of the West. The five red bats provide rebuses for huge good fortune and for the Five Blessings of longevity, health, wealth, love of virtue and a peaceful death.