The exterior of the steep sides finely painted with radiating barbed panels, viz:- one with mandarin ducks, one standing on stylized rockwork in the foreground, the other two swimming, a second panel with a crane, the crane standing in front of a pine tree, a third panel with a phoenix standing amidst peony blossoms, a fourth panel with two quails, one looking back at the other with a swallow hovering above, a fifth panel with a pair of ducks in a watery landscape, a further bird in the foreground standing on stylized rockwork, the sixth panel containing a peacock, the peacock standing in front of a bamboo, with an exquisitely detailed butterfly hovering above, the six panels reserved on a ground of interlocking ribboned emblems and flower heads above a petal panel and scroll pattern border at the foot, the interior with a central roundel of a wooded and hilly landscape, two little pavilions nestled amidst lush foliage, the walls with scattered scenes of magnificently painted geese swooping and swimming amongst waving water foliage, perched on rockwork and in flight, the base glazed.
Provenance: Colstoun, Haddington, East Lothian
Similar petal panelled bowls in the Topkapi Sarayi are illustrated by Krahl and Ayers, op. cit., p. 780, no. 1500-3. Dated to the late 16th or early 17th century, they are typical of a group of late Ming blue and white dishes and bowls with a combination of panel-enclosed designs and continuous borders. Birds and water-fowl among rocks and aquatic vegetation became increasingly popular in the last half century of the Ming dynasty. The wide border is painted in a delightfully idiosyncratic style with geese sloping energetically through weed-strewn water. The centre is more prosaically treated with a long-tailed bird perched on rockwork below a pelmet of scrolls resembling 'swiss rolls'. This formula leads almost directly to the early Southwark delftwares of Christian Wilhelm and others, where similar but somewhat devolved designs appear to have been popular from the late 1620's until about 1645 and for which see Lipski and Archer, Dated English Delftware, p. 309, nos. 706-9, 711-12, 715, 886-8, 1250-52 and 1511; also Hume, Early English Delftware from London and Virginia, pp. 38-42, figs. 30, 31, 33 and 35-41.
For an almost identical bowl, see Anita Gray A Catalogue of Oriental Ceramics and Works of Art, (no. 3), plate 10, page 19.