It’s fair to say that Western gardeners don’t pay much attention to the humble chrysanthemum. In Chinese culture the plant has fared rather differently. Inspired by its ability to resist winter chills, Chinese emperors drank wines laced with chrysanthemum, poets praised what they called “the petals of longevity”, and the intricate forms of chrysanthemum flowers came to figure prominently in Chinese art.
Symbolically the flower is associated with long life, good fortune and the season of autumn, so it’s appropriate that the most expensive piece in Adam’s first-ever specialist auction of Fine Oriental Ceramics, Sculpture and Art is a green “chrysanthemum dish” (Lot 74, €40,000-€60,000).
Why such a high estimate for such a tiny dish?
“It dates from the Yongzheng period, which was quite a short one, 1723 to 1735, and porcelain from that time is known for its high technical quality,” says Ronan Flanagan of Adam’s fine art department. “Porcelains were moving away from blue and white, and coloured glazes were the order of the day. The chrysanthemum dishes are well known to the market, and highly collectible.”