A yellow-ground Dayazhai bowl
Guangxu period (1875-1908)
The bowl with rounded side and flared rim is decorated in grisaille with flowering branches of wisteria with a perched magpie above flowering roses, all reserved on a lemon-yellow ground. The characters dayazhai followed by an oval seal tian xia di yi chun are written in iron-red below the gilt rim. The interior is glazed white. The base is inscribed with a four-character mark yong qing chang chun in iron-red.
15 cm diameter
Sold at Sotheby’s Amsterdam, 27 October 1993, lot no. 241
Formerly in the collection of Robert Suermont
This bowl belongs to a group of porcelains made for the use of the Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908). These porcelains included flower pots, fish bowls, food boxes, vases, bowls, dishes, stem bowls and spittoons. They all carry the same inscription on the base yong qing chang chun, ‘Eternal Prosperity and Enduring Spring’. Da ya zhai stands for ‘Studio of the Great Elegance’, and the seal tian di yi jia chun is translated as ‘Heaven and Earth/One Family/Spring).
The magpie and wisteria pattern is mainly seen on pieces with a turquoise or yellow ground. These include bowls of various qualities. The present bowl, however, is identical to the bowl in the Percival David Collection, which is described by Longsdorf as the best example amongst the range of different qualities.
Other identical examples are in the Metropolitan Museum New York, and in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Turquoise-ground examples are illustrated in the Weishaupt Collection.