This elegantly potted bowl with its delicately painted design of crab-apple and yellow rose has a beautifully written calligraphic inscription, which may be translated as:
'Bees dusted with pollen;
Sunbeams alighting on the brilliant wings of butterflies.'
The poetic inscription is accompanied by three well-written rectangular 'seals' in rouge enamel. Jiali (beautiful) precedes the poem, while jincheng (golden flame) and xuying (sincerity) appear at the end. The jincheng seal, in reference to the golden colours of Autumn, is intriguing since the majority of complementary seals on falangcai wares are adjectival or obviously complementary.
This inscription, accompanied by the same seals appears on two vessels in the National Palace Museum, Taipei. One is a Yongzheng-marked dish decorated with the same flowers as the current bowl, illustrated in Special Exhibition of Ch'ing Dynasty Enamelled Porcelains of the Imperial Ateliers, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1992, pp. 188, no. 93. The other is a Qianlong-marked dish with yellow rose and pinks on the interior, with the inscription on the left and on the exterior a pale green enamel sgraffito ground with additional prunus, rose, chrysanthemum and lotus sprays, illustrated ibid., pp. 228-9, no. 115).
Comparisons between the current bowl and the Taipei dish bearing the same motifs are useful. Although the poem on the bowl is written in four lines of alternately three and two characters and that on the dish is arranged in seven rows of alternately one or two characters, the style of calligraphy on the two vessels is very similar, as is the rather delicate painting of the two rouge seals to the left of the inscription. The disposition of the flowers over the vessels is also similar. In both cases the yellow rose and the crab-apple branches rise from the top of the foot and form a distinctive mass of branches, leaves and flowers. Slightly to one side of this group a single crab-apple branch rises and bifurcates with flowers on both stems. On the other side of the group a single rose stem rises from the group and disappears over the rim of the vessel before reappearing and terminating in a large yellow bloom. This decorative device of taking a stem up to the mouth rim, allow it to look as if it has disappeared into the interior, and then have it reappear further along the rim, is very popular among Yongzheng enamelled porcelains. The inspiration for this device is probably to be found in handscroll paintings of flowering branches, on which sections of branches often disappear at the edge of the picture. The styles used to depict the leaves of the two plants, as well as their flowers, are consistent on the two vessels, and it seems clear that the lovely bowl and dish were part of the same imperial commission.