Pair of Chinese porcelain café au lait ground fencai, famille rose enamelled large saucer dishes, each painted with a central group of flowering orchids issuing from rockwork between branches of bamboo and flowering prunus, beneath butterflies in flight and a branch of flowering chrysanthemum, all within a gilt rim, the reverse with four groups of lingzhi  fungus amongst grass also on a café au lait ground.

9 5/8 inches, 24.5 cm diameter.

The bases with six-character sealmarks of Daoguang in iron-red and of the period, 1821-1850.


Overall excellent condition.

Provenance & Additional Information

  • Formerly in the collection of Tang Shaoyi (1862-1938), the first prime minister of the Republic of China, and thence by descent.
  • The group of four flowers—prunus, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum—form the rebus mei lan zhu ju, “four gentlemen among flowers.” The four gentlemen or four nobles are: the bamboo which is associated with strength and scholarship, the chrysanthemum which symbolises pleasure and entertainment, the orchid rarity and refinement and the prunus vitality and longevity. This is also a popular theme for paintings.