The inspiration for this shape and pattern, 'flowers and fruits of the Four Seasons', originates from examples produced during the early Ming period, cf. a meiping dated to the Xuande period in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Blue and White Ware of the Ming Dynasty, Book II (part 1), pl. 1; two early 15th century examples illustrated by T. Misugi, The Ardebil Shrine Collection, nos. A69 and A70; and another example sold in these Rooms, 2 November 1999, lot 650.
The remarkably fine quality of the painting on the present lot is comparable to a meiping of this exact pattern, bearing an apocryphal Xuande six-character reign mark and dated to the Yongzheng period, from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, illustrated by He Li, Chinese Ceramics - A New Comprehensive Survey, New York, 1996, p. 290, no. 593. Compare also similar naturalistic rendition of the fruiting branches on a smaller meiping (26 cm. high) from the Sir Harry and Lady Garner collection of the Yongzheng period, sold in these Rooms, 1 November 2004, lot 835. The Garner meiping with its two registers of fruiting branches and an absence of floral sprays, appears sparse in its design compared with both the Asian Art Museum vase and the present example.
This same decorative 'flower and fruit' pattern continued into the Qianlong period. A meiping with this design bearing a Qianlong six-character sealmark is illustrated in Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red, part III, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Commercial Press Hong Kong, 2000, p. 131, pl. 117. It is recorded in the Qianlong Jishidong, that in the Qianlong wuwu year (1738) instructions were sent to the Imperial kilns requesting the production of 'Xuande period blue and white fruit spray meiping', op. cit., Hong Kong, 2000, p. 131. It is interesting to note a related group of Qianlong-marked meiping vases decorated with six clusters of fruit and flowers, as opposed to the five as in the case of the present example. These related vases are normally potted with a broad shoulder and a reduced clusters of fruit and flowers, such as the vase from the Robert Change collection, sold in these Rooms, 1 November 2004, lot 1078; and the pair of vases from the T. Y. Chao collection, exhibited at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1978, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 79. One of the T. Y. Chao vases is now in the S. C. Ko Tianminlou collection, illustrated in Blue and White Porcelains in the Collection of Tianminlou Foundation, Hong Kong, 1996, p. 222, no. 94.