The current meiping, distinguished by its well-balanced form, elegant composition, and delicate painting, rendered successfully by the painter’s controlled yet confident hand, represents one of the finest examples of early fifteenth-century blue and white wares.
Similar meiping bearing this design are known in museums and private collections worldwide, ranging from 24.5 cm. to 41 cm. in height. Three examples of comparable size have been recorded, one was included in The Philadelphia 1949 Exhibition of Ming Blue-and-white, Catalogue, no. 89, and now in the Matsuoka Museum of Arts; the second in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, included in the Art gallery of New South Wales Exhibition of Chinese Porcelain, 1977, Catalogue, no. 52; and the third in the Topkapi Saray Museum, no. TKS15/3822. The Topkapi Saray Museum has an additional five meiping bearing this design, two of 29 cm. in height, are illustrated by Regina Krahl in Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Museum: A Complete Catalogue, vol. 2, London, 1986, p. 430, no. 624, one of which has a blue ground to the petals around the shoulder. The Ardebil Shrine similarly has six meiping of this design, one is illustrated in Chinese Porcelains from the Ardebil Shrine, Washington, 1956, no. 51. Two further examples are in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Mingci Mingpin Tulu: Hongwu Yao, Yongle Yao, Xuande Yao, Tokyo, 1977, pls. 12 and 39, the later with a cover and a slightly different proportion and a more tightly arranged composition, is attributed to the Xuande period. One in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Zhongguo taoci quanji, vol. 12, Shanghai, 2000, pl. 12, and a second by Geng Baochang in Gugong bowuyuan cang Mingchu qinghua ci, Beijing, 2002, vol. 1, pl. 76, dated Xuande period. Another from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, no. PDF A.610, is currently on display at the British Museum.
In terms of form and decoration, the current type of meiping is closely related to another group of meiping from this period, which has a rounder waist and a more complex design showing ten fruiting sprays as the main motif, arranged in a narrower register between more elaborate borders. Examples of this later group include two covered meiping in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red (I), Hong Kong, 2000, pp. 31-32, nos. 29-30; and one formerly in the Meiyintang Collection, sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 5 October 2011, lot 11.
The current meiping appears to be the only one of this size group and design to have been offered at auction. Similar examples of this design sold at auction include one from the YC Chen Collection, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 29 May 2013, lot 1930 (28.5 cm.), and another sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 8 April 2014, lot 3023 (28 cm.).
Copies of this form and design were commissioned by the imperial court during the 18th century, when the early Ming original was sent to Jingdezhen for potters to emulate, as indicated by an entry from the Palace archives dated to the sixth month of Qianlong third year (1738). The Qing copies are characterised by a wider shoulder and simulated ‘heaping and piling’ effect, such as a pair of Qianlong-marked examples sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30 November 2011, lot 2942.