Bowl with design in reserve

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Xuande reign, 1426-1435
Porcelain with cobalt under colorless glaze
Jingdezhen ware
H x Diam: 8.7 × 18.7 cm (3 7/16 × 7 3/8 in)
China, Jiangxi province, Jingdezhen
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel


China, flower, Jingdezhen ware, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), porcelain, Xuande reign (1426 - 1435)
Provenance research underway.

Fifteenth-century blue-and-white porcelains are among the most memorable and influential of all Chinese ceramics. A Yuan dynasty, fourteenth-century approach to creating a design in reserve against a solid background was revived to great effect in the Xuande reign. The cobalt decoration of the period often appears blue-black, as it does here in the dark washes that alternate with paler areas, and the cobalt sometimes takes on a slightly blurred or fuzzy texture. The sensibility of many porcelain decorations in the Xuande period, including this design, bear a close affinity to textile patterns and serves as a reminder of the close links among many of the Ming arts.

The unpainted motifs-lotuses outside and seasonal flowers inside-in their snowy brilliance reveal the Xuande potters' technical accomplishment in removing virtually all impurities from the clay. The hibiscus in the well of this bowl is associated with wishes for immortality in traditional Chinese lore.

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 163.
  • Sekai toji zenshu [Catalogue of the World's Ceramics]. 16 vols, Tokyo, 1955-1958. vol. 11: pl. 58.
  • Ming Porcelains in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington, 1953. p. 16, figs. 7-8.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.