The quality of workmanship on carved lacquerware reached its zenith during the Yongle reign when increased control and conformity of decoration were established for the production of official ware. Craftsmen in the Xuande reign sometimes struggled to keep up with the high standards imposed upon them. This could explain the superimposition of the later reign mark on the original one, a phenomenon observed only in the case of carved lacquerware. Writers of the late Ming publication Dijing jingwu lue suggest that in the Xuande period official workshops were unable to provide the court with the same high standards and to the specifications laid down during the Yongle period, and to avoid punishment, craftsmen secretly bought Yongle pieces from palace eunuchs and altered the marks to Xuande. It is possible that the present lot is part of this group of disguised wares where a bold Xuande mark in regular script has been engraved and gilded over the smaller thinly incised Yongle mark. Another possibility for the changed marks could be that lacquered pieces took a long time in production, and the time taken could have spanned over two reigns, resulting in the need to re-inscribe the nianhao.
For examples of dishes with related design of peonies, cf. the dish from the Percival David Collection, at the International Exhibition of Chinese Art, Burlington House, 1935/6, Catalogue, no. 1027; a smaller early Ming dish from the Florence and Herbert Irving Collection, illustrated by J. Watt and B. Ford, East Asian Lacquer, no. 22a; and the dish sold in our London Rooms, 14 July 1980, lot 328.