This bowl is a classic example of the refined blue and white wares made for the court of the Xuande Emperor. It is well potted and decorated making good use of the 'heaped and piled' effect of the cobalt where this will enhance the design. The Xuande reign is known for the variety of its porcelain forms, some of which appear only infrequently outside the period. This particular bowl form is a case in point. Its pleasing, almost hemispherical, shape and convex 'sugar loaf' internal medallion, are not often found in later periods. The decorative scheme, which displays some influence of Middle Eastern design, perfectly complements the form.
An identical bowl in shape, size and decoration in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, is illustrated in Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsüan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, Taipei, 1998, pp. 296-7, no. 121. The National Palace Museum also has a slightly smaller Xuande-marked bowl bearing the same decorative scheme, except for the omission of the classic scroll on the interior mouth rim and the lotus petal band around the exterior base, ibid., pp. 298-9, no. 122. The Palace Museum, Beijing also has one of the smaller examples similar to the second Taipei vessel illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 34 - Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red (I), Hong Kong, 2000, p. 167, no. 158.
For two similar bowls of smaller size than the current vessel, one in the Percival David Foundation and one in the Shanghai Museum, see Illustrated Catalogue of Underglaze Blue and Copper Red, London, 1976, pl. XV, no. B697; and Wang Qingzheng, Underglaze Blue and Red, Hong Kong, 1993, p. 94, no. 67, respectively.