Bowl with Secret Decoration

China
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
early 15th century
Porcelain with transparent glaze (White ware)
H. 4 in (10.1 cm); Diam. 8 1/4 in. (21 cm)
APx 1971.20
Currently Not On View
In the Ming period, white ware reached a peak of refinement, achieving a thin, fine-grained, pure white body and a glaze that was transparent and glossy, without any tinge of color. Such wares were so thin that they were often called “bodiless.” Many monochrome white porcelains of the early fifteenth century repeat the shapes of contemporary blue-and-white vessels and copy the blue designs in incising or low relief. A particularly popular device was to execute the ornament as anhua (“secret decoration”), so delicately incised that it is scarcely visible unless the vessel is held to the light. This lotus-shaped bowl is decorated with an interior pattern of radiating petals, with a scrolling floral vine and key fret border on the exterior.

Provenance

(N. V. Hammer, Inc., New York) by 1969; purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1971.