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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: Chinese
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1723
Creation End Date: 1735
Creation Date: Qing period, Yongzheng era, 1723-1735
Creation Place: China, Jiangxi Province
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Porcelain painted with overglaze enamels (Jingdezhen ware)
Dimensions: H. 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm); 3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.186
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: The Qing dynasty (1644-1912) was a period of relative peace and economic prosperity, and also a time of close ties with Europe. The Qing rulers were avid patrons of the arts. In 1677, the Kangxi emperor (r. 1662-1722) rebuilt the imperial kilns of Jingdezhen, which had been destroyed during the fighting that had led to the establishment of the dynasty, and in 1683 the production of imperial ceramics resumed. The creation of a range of opaque overglaze enamels was one of the most important contributions made to ceramic technology during the Qing. The enamels used to paint ceramics in earlier periods had been transparent and of limited hues, but the development of opaque colors allowed painters to blend tints together to create the varied gradations of shades and hues found on Qing-period porcelains. The colors developed in the early part of the Qing period were used throughout the dynasty and continue to be used today in the decoration of porcelain. An important element in Qing painted porcelains is the addition of shades of pink to the overglaze enamel palette. An opaque white derived from a lead arsenite and a pale pink were among the last opaque overglaze enamels to be developed, possibly because they are very difficult to manufacture. The pink overglaze enamels were tinted with colloidal gold (fine fragments of metal in suspension in the enamel), and scholarly debate continues regarding the possibility of European contributions to this technology.
The combination of beautiful shapes, refined bodies,sophisticated colors, and elegant paintings that characterizes Qing-period porcelains helped to spur a desire for these ceramics in the West. One result of the 17th- and 18th-century Western fascination with Qing porcelains was the development of a series of French terms to classify these wares. Of these, famille verte for porcelains that are painted primarily in shades of green and famille rose for porcelains that have shades of pink in their design are the most common. Neither term is used in Chinese scholarship; instead, Chinese scholars use such terms as 'foreign colors' (yangcai), 'powdered colors' (fencai), 'soft colors' (ruancai), or 'enamel colors' (falangcai) to describe porcelains with opaque overglaze enamel decoration.
The painting of two quail standing in a rocky landscape on this small bowl illustrates the versatility possible with the opaque enamel colors. The bowl is inscribed on the base with the six-character reign mark of the Yongzheng emperor (r. 1723-1735). The delicacy of painting and the combination of opaque and translucent enamels is typical of the finest examples of 18th-century porcelains. The nandina, narcissus, rocks, and sacred fungus in the landscape on this bowl help identifyits theme as a pun that can be loosely translated as 'fungus fairy bestows birthday greetings' (zhixian zhoshou). This theme was often used for birthday greetings or New Year's wishes. As is often the case with Qing-dynasty porcelains, these wishes are combined with another auspicious theme: the paired quails can be read as a rebus for peace and prosperity. The theme of good wishes is also found on other ceramics dating to the Yongzheng era, and it is possible that this bowl was once part of a larger set of dishes produced for a specific occasion at the court.
Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, , p. 82.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.186
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, Asia Society
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