This exquisite little water pot bears some of the finest painting to come from the imperial ateliers during the Qianlong reign. Despite its small size of the vessel, the artist has managed to portray the flowers and insects in remarkable detail, and in a very natural manner. The dragonfly and the cricket are particularly well painted. The flower sprays are rendered with equal naturalism, and the variety of flowers is greater than that seen on vessels of much larger size. The borders of overlapping leaves at the foot and ruyi heads around the mouth rim are painted with equal care and with very fine details.
The decoration on this water pot represents a fascination with the natural world that can be seen on a small number of other fine enamelled wares from the imperial ateliers. Butterflies and insects are, for example, painted on the body of a lobed, lidded jar with yellow ground in the National Palace Museum, Taipei (illustrated ibid., pp. 246-7, no. 130). While there are no flowers in the same decorative area as the butterflies and insects on this jar, there is a band of flowers around the upper shoulders and the neck. Butterflies and flowers are painted in the panels of a Qianlong enamel on metal ewer in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei (illustrated in Enamel Ware in the Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1999, pp. 224-5, no. 114). The flower and butterfly panels alternate with panels containing figures in landscape.
Sprays of flowers, butterflies and insects are painted on the lid of a white-ground Qianlong enamel on metal covered bowl in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei (illustrated in ibid., pp. 248-9, no. 131). Flowers and butterflies are painted in several of the roundels on the lid of a Qianlong enamelled box in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing (illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum 43 Metal-bodied Enamel Ware, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 2002, pp. 220-1, no. 210). Such was the appreciation of this type of design that flower sprays and butterflies cover a cloisonné vase in the Palace Museum, Beijing (illustrated ibid. p. 100, no. 97).