This beautiful vase combines the strength and elegance of form that is typical of the fine wares of the Yongle reign, with rich and fluent painting in cobalt blue. The form of the meiping has the well-rounded shoulders and gently tapering foot characteristic of the early 15th century. A plain white meiping vase of similar size and form to the current example was excavated in 1983 from the Yongle stratum of the Imperial kilns at Zhushan, Jingdezhen, Imperial Hongwu and Yongle Porcelain Excavated at Jingdezhen, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1996, pp. 264-5, no. 101. Two similar vases, bearing the two characters nei fu indicating use in the palace, are in the Ataka Collection, Osaka. See R. Fujioka and G. Hasebe, Sekai toji zenshu - 14 - Ming, Tokyo, 1976, p. 176, no. 180.
A slightly smaller meiping with similar shape and decoration in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum 34 Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red (I), Hong Kong, 2000, p. 33, no. 31, while a slightly larger meiping with the same design is in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taiwan; Porcelain of the National Palace Museum - Blue and White Ware of the Ming Dynasty Book 1, National Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1963, p. 72, pl. 16. A vase of similar size and shape and with the same decoration as the current vase in the Percival David Foundation, is illustrated by M. Medley, Oriental Ceramics, The World's Great Collections, vol. 6, Tokyo, 1982, fig. 104. Pieces of this shape and decoration were also greatly appreciated in the Near East, as evidenced by their inclusion in both the Topkapi Saray Museum in Istanbul and the Ardebil Shrine collection now in the Iran Bastan. See J. Ayers & R. Krahl, Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, vol. II, London, 1986, no. 623; and J.A. Pope, Chinese Porcelains from the Ardebil Shrine, Sotheby Parke Bernet, Washington, D.C., 1956, pl. 51, no. 29.406, respectively.
The inclusion of both fruit and flower sprays became a popular theme on imperial porcelains of the Yongle reign and was employed in a somewhat different scheme on a more heavily painted, larger, meiping of similar shape to the current vase, which is in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing; The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum 34 Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red (I), op. cit., p. 32, no. 30. The meiping form, like that of the current vase, provided a particularly good 'canvas' for the display of such decoration.