The inspiration for this shape and pattern originates from meiping produced during the early Ming period, such as the Yongle-period blue and white vase and cover decorated with flowering and fruiting sprays in the Palace Museum, Beijing, which is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 34 - Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (I), Hong Kong, 2000, p. 32, no. 30.
The combination of yellow enamel with underglaze blue decoration originated in the Xuande period: see, for example, a large dish decorated with a peony spray in the center and fruiting sprays in the cavetto, illustrated in Imperial Porcelain of the Yongle and Xuande Periods Excavated from the Site of the Ming Imperial Factory at Jingdezhen, Hong Kong, 1989, pp. 278-79, no. 98. The popularity of the yellow and blue decoration continued into the Qing dynasty, where its use was extended to more elaborate vessel forms, including meiping, tianqiuping and faceted vases.
A Qianlong-marked meiping of similar form and decoration to the present example, from the T.T. Tsui Collection, is illustrated in The Tsui Museum of Art. Chinese Ceramics IV - Qing Dynasty, Hong Kong, 1995, no. 88, and was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 28 April 1996, lot 56. (Fig. 1) A pair of Qianlong-marked yellow-enameled underglaze blue-decorated meiping and covers, with more rounded bodies than the present example, was sold at Sotheby’s New York, 31 May 1989, lot 183.
A number of blue and white broad-shouldered meiping with Qianlong marks have been published, including one in the Shenyang Palace Museum illustrated in The Prime Cultural Relics Collected by the Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum, The Chinaware Volume The First Part, Shenyang, 2008, pp. 32-33, no. 17; one in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of the Palace Museum - 36 - Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (III), Hong Kong, 2000, p. 131, no. 117; and a pair from the T. Y. Chao Collection, included in the exhibition Ming and Ch’ing Porcelain from the Collection of the T. Y. Chao Family Foundation held at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1978, no. 79, one of which is illustrated in Chinese Porcelain. The S. C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Part II, Blue-and-White Ware, Hong Kong, 1987, pp. 90-91, no. 63. Several have been sold at Christie’s Hong Kong: one formerly from the Robert Chang Collection, 1 December 2009, lot 1888; one from the Shorenstein Collection, 1 December 2010, lot 2970 (Fig. 2); and a pair, 30 December 2011, lot 2942.
The present meiping was formerly in the collection of Paul Kollsman, a German-American inventor who, together with his brother Otto, founded Kollsman Instruments Co. in Brooklyn, New York, in 1929. Kollsman achieved extraodinary success with his new design of an altimeter for the cutting edge aircraft industry. Considered by far the most accurate instrument of its time, the Kollsman altimeter was bought by the US Navy, and dominated the market by the mid 1930s. Kollsman was a private gentleman, with a passion for rare and unsual antiques, with which he furnished his estates in Oyster Bay, New York, and Beverly Hills, California.