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heavily potted with thick rounded sides supported on a slightly tapering foot, strikingly painted in vivid cobalt blue with six branches bearing blossoms and fruits, naturalistically depicting pomegranate, peach, loquat, persimmon, grape, and crab apple, the six-character reign mark inscribed in a horizontal line below double lines at the rim, all above a band of petal lappets around the base and formal blossom sprays skirting the foot, the rounded interior left undecorated
Bowls of this shape, whose deliberately sturdy construction with almost 1 cm thick walls is most peculiar, are remarkable for their even potting and successful firing. They were made for only a short period of time in the Yongle and Xuande reigns, and were not revived in the Qing dynasty, like most other early Ming shapes. Their purpose has not yet been definitely determined.
A bowl of this design in the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, is published in the Museum's Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsüan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, Taipei, 1998, cat. no. 47; one from the Sir Percival David Collection in the British Museum, London, in Oriental Ceramics. The World's Great Collections, Tokyo, New York, San Francisco, 1980-82, vol. 6, no. 98; a similar bowl in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., was included in the exhibition Ming Porcelains in the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1953, cat. no. 10; another from the collection of Stephen Junkunc III, exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1949, is published in 'Ming Blue-and-White. An Exhibition of Blue-Decorated Porcelain of the Ming Dynasty', Philadelphia Museum Bulletin, vol. XLIV, no. 223, Autumn 1949, cat. no. 61, and was sold in our New York rooms 22nd March 1995, lot 234. A fragmentary piece from the waste heaps of the Ming imperial kilns is illustrated in Lu Minghua, Shanghai Bowuguan zangpin yanjiu daxi/Studies of the Shanghai Museum Collections. A Series of Monographs: Mingdai guanyao ciqi [Ming imperial porcelain], Shanghai, 2007, pl. 3-121; and one from the Toguri collection, illustrated in Min Shin no bijutsu [The art of Ming and Qing], Tokyo, 1982, pl. 6, was sold in our London rooms, 9th June 2004, lot 16.
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