The Yuan Mongol regime was proactive in promoting commerce and trade throughout its empire and was particularly supportive of various local artistries. It is against this background that we witness a rapid development of lacquer art during the Yuan period both in terms of quality and stylistic evolution. The current dish attests to the much bolder and freer rendering of motifs typical of Yuan lacquer wares, with the dramatic presence of a large peony surrounded by overlapping elements. Such free spirit in the carving is rarely seen in later Ming dynasty imperial wares, where decorations became much more formalised .
The current dish is very similar to a Yuan period cinnabar lacquer dish with the signature of the fabled Yuan lacquer master Zhang Cheng, similarly carved but with a prominent gardenia in the centre amidst dense overlapping leaves and buds, in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing and illustrated in Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 2006, pl. 3. The same publication mentions that the classic scrolls on the exterior of the dish, like the current example, are typical of those found on Yuan lacquer dishes, ibid, p. 10. Compare also another larger cinnabar lacquer dish with carved peonies formerly in the Lee Family Collection, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 1 December 2009, lot 1813.