This exceptionally fine vase is very rare and only a few other examples are known. A similar example, formerly in the E. T. Chow Collection, was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 25 November 1980, lot 134; and another was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 13 November 1990, lot 133. A pair, formerly in the Li Chi Bai Collection, was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 29 November, 2017, lot 2909; and another pair, formerly in the T. Y. Chao Collection, was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 19 May 1987, lots 298.
Small, delicate vases of this type were displayed in the palace as receptacles for flowers, possibly on a scholar’s desk. The collection of the Palace Museum contains a portrait of the Qianlong Emperor dressed in Han attire seated in a scholar’s studio, that also shows a monochrome vase with lobed body, related to the form of the present vase, which holds flowers and sits on a stand on the table. This portrait is illustrated on the front cover of Tushuo Qinggong ciqi dang an – wenfang juan, Beijing, 2016. Compare, also, another type of small doucai vase, also with a lobed body and long neck, decorated with the ‘Three Friends of Winter’ motif, such as the one in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Special Exhibition of K’ang-hsi, Yung-cheng and Ch’ien-lung Porcelain Ware of the Ch’ing Dynasty, Taipei, 1986, pl. 46; and another in the Nanjing Museum, illustrated in Treasures in the Royalty: The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, p. 142.