Exemplifying the mature refinement of the classic Ming aesthetic, this bowl from the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen embodies the ideals of serenity and harmony. Although its eloquent form with a gently curled lip attests to the technical supremacy of the Ming potter, the real hallmark of the imperial Ming style is expressed in the harmony of form and decoration: the manner in which the lotus scrolls on the exterior - and the six lotus blooms around a peony spray on the inside of the bowl - flow seamlessly around the vessel. On the deeply recessed base the bowl carries the six-character mark of the Xuande reign drawn in underglaze blue. In spite of this mark, the undisputed quality of the bowl, and the characteristic bluish clear glaze with its 'orange skin' surface, a slightly later date of c. 1450-65 is suggested by a few anomalies: notably the specific design of the lotus scroll and the weight of the bowl relative to its size.
Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg.253.
Reference should be made to a period of 30 years between the end of the Hsuan-te (Xuande) and the beginning of the Ch'eng-hua (Chenghua) reigns, often referred to by collectors as the 'interregnum'. There are considerable gaps in our positive knowledge of ceramic history over these years, but we do know that it was an important period of transition during which there occurred a marked change in the body and glaze quality and in style of decoration, culminating in the more refined and delicate types of Ch'eng-hua (Chenghua) porcelains. Many pieces of excellent quality, some bearing the Hsuan-te (Xuande) reign mark, are thought on stylistic and other grounds to have been made during the 'interregnum'. (Margaret Medley, 'Regrouping fifteenth century blue and white' in Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, London 1963-4; Sir Harry Garner, 'Oriental Blue and White' preface to the 3rd edition, London, 1970, p.xxi.) This is one such piece. (J.H. Myrtle, 'A Fifteenth Century Ming Blue and White Bowl', in Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual, Sydney, 1977.)
Hepburn Myrtle, 'Chinese Porcelain of the Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1977. p8.
porcelain with underglaze blue decoration
10.3 x 21.3 cm
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Chinese porcelain of the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 18 Feb 1977–26 Jun 1977
Conversations through the Asian collections, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Oct 2014–13 Mar 2016
Referenced in 7 publications
Edmund Capon, The Connoisseur, 'Far Eastern Art in the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 22-29, London, May 1980, 25 (colour illus.).
Florence Chong, Sun, 'Pottery prices make big gains', pg. 25, Sydney, 31 Dec 1980, 25 (illus.).
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian Collection: East Asia', pg. 246-287, Sydney, 1999, 253 (colour illus.).
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The Marvel of Porcelain', Sydney, 2003, 116 (colour illus.).
Hepburn Myrtle, Catalogue of acquisitions 1975, 'A 15th century Ming blue and white porcelain bowl', pg.8-23, Sydney, 1977, 8-16, 17 (illus.), 18 (illus.), 19 (illus.), 136 (illus.). cat.no. 260, plate nos. 1,2,3
Julian Thompson, Orientations, 'Chinese Porcelain in the Collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 96-103, Hong Kong, Sep 2000, 97 (colour illus.). fig.2
J. Hepburn Myrtle, Chinese porcelain of the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties, Sydney, 1977, 8,19,43,59 (illus.). cat.no. 15. See Further Information for text.