The unusual combination of grisaille and turquoise enamels on this large box was inspired by the style of the Empress Dowager Cixi who controlled the court from 1861 to 1908. During this time, the empress commissioned enamelled porcelains from the Jingdezhen workshops and carried her own style and artistic vision into the ceramic production of the day. At once patron, art director and designer, she led a large program of innovation in porcelain design. The decorative theme of this box is seasonal flowers, with motifs of chrysanthemums and hibiscus in autumn bloom. Covered boxes such as this one were part of dinner sets. Four known sets were elaborated by Cixi, each representing one of the seasons.