Previously sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 30 April 1991, lot 10; and again in these Rooms, 27 October 2003, lot 627.
Fragments of another Hongwu blue and white ewer of almost the same height and identical decorative format utilising chrysanthemum scrolls as the main theme were found at Dongmentou, Zhushan, in 1994, and exhibited in Imperial Hongwu and Yongle Porcelain Excavated at Jingdezhen, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1996, p. 74, pl. 4.
Two other related blue and white ewers of this period are published, the first in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated by Feng Xianming, Wenwu Kaogu Zhuankan, series 10, no. 1, 1973, p. 22, fig. 7; and the second example formerly from the collection of Kushi Takushin, now in the Idemitsu Museum of Arts, illustrated in Sekai Toji Zenshu, vol. 14, 1976, p. 9, pl. 1; and again in Chinese Ceramics in the Idemitsu Collection, 1987, no. 151. These two ewers differ to the present lot in that the Beijing ewer has four flower sprays as the main design. The Idemitsu ewer has larger ruyi motifs around the lower neck, above a peony scroll. Another point of note is the arrangement of lotus scroll on the handle and lingzhi, on the spout of this ewer is arranged in a different decorative format to the Beijing and Idemitsu ewers in that the combination is reversed with lotus scroll on the spout and lingzhi on the handle.
Although a number of underglaze-blue wares from the Hongwu period have been excavated at Jingdezhen, blue and white porcelains are still considered a rarity in comparison to contemporaneous underglaze-red and monochrome wares. The reason for this disproportionate production is probably attributed to the scarcity of imported cobalt as foreign trade during the Hongwu period was strictly regulated.