The bowl is painted in crisp enamels on the exterior with two medallions enclosing scenes from the Mudan ting ‘Peony Pavilion’ play, all surrounded by butterflies, chrysanthemum, peonies and peaches on a lime-green ground. The cover is similarly decorated below the circular knob. The rime of the lobed bowl is gilt as well as the circles framing the medallions. The inside of the bowl, the cover, the knob and the foot rim bear a turquoise glaze.
The Peony Pavilion (Chinese: 牡丹亭; pinyin: Mudan ting), also named The Return of Soul at the Peony Pavilion, is a romantic tragicomedy play written by dramatist Tang Xianzu in 1598, and the plot was drawn from the short story Du Liniang Revives for Love. It depicts a love story between Du Liniang and Liu Mengmei, overcomes all difficulties, transcending time and space, life and death, and finally get together. Different from the short story, in Tang' s play, it is a dynamic integration of the legendary and the reality in Ming Dynasty. Scenes of love in dreams, Du Liniang's revival, or any supernatural element seem absurd in play, but it reflects the sprout of humanism, through protagonists' strong desire and unremitting pursuit of free love and uncovers the degeneracy of the society under feudalism at that time.
The scenes depicted on the present bowl are most likely ‘Discovering the Portrait’ and ‘Secret Rendezvous’, both of which belong to the small group of important scenes usually being adopted and performed onstage. It is known that this play was very popular during the mid-Qing period. (2)
Shape: Porcelain bowl with cover
Weight: 650,3 grams total, 402,3 grams the bowl, 248 grams the cover
Dimensions: 16,9 cm diameter (the bowl) 16 cm diameter (the lid)
Condition: The gilding on the rim of the know has been redone, covering a very tiny chip. The inside of both bowl and lid shows old wear. Otherwise absolutely perfect condition.
Provenance: American private collection, purchase at Christies. A photocopy of the Christies invoice will be released to the new owner
Literature comparison: A Daoguang-period dish (one of a pair) of this very same design is illustrated by D. Nadler, China to Order, Paris, 2001, no. 129, where it is cited that another dish of this design from the Alma Cleveland Porter Collection is in the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.
文獻參考：一個道光時期相似的瓷盤，收錄於D. Nadler著《China to Order》，巴黎，2001年，編號129。同時指出與此盤成對的另一個瓷盤來自Alma Cleveland Porter收藏，現存於美國麻薩諸塞州的皮博迪埃塞克斯博物館。