Types of Export Porcelain
Probably the best known type of Chinese export porcelain consists of these pieces which display the armorial bearing of European families, companies or societies. Yet almost without exception these were not imported by the English East India Company. They were private trade goods usually ordered through ships' captains or super-cargos.
In the years from 1695 to 1820, probably 4000 Chinese armorial services were made for British families, of which the great majority were painted between 1715 and 1805. In the 18th century a service was made for a British family on average once every nine days during the hundred years. This does not include the armorial services made for the Portuguese, French, Dutch, Swedish, and other European markets. Armorial porcelain was even then a luxury, about ten times as expensive as other porcelain, and could only be ordered by those who bore arms.
Japanese Imari became popular in the late 17th century. Its significance is the busy design with colours of blue, green, black, red and lots of gold details. Imari porcelain dominate the whole Dutch and European markets during the whole 18th century.
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IMARI ON BEGONIA VASE
IMARI WITH PEACHES LID
IMARI CHECKERS JAR
IMARI PLANTER WITH PLATE
Porcelain production had stopped in China in 1645 because of the Civil Wars. Japanese porcelain manufacturers benefited as a result. But Japan was not able to cope with the great demand of porcelain in the market, plus their knowledge was far behind China; their costs were very high and not nearly as competitive as China. In 1700, the Civil Wars in China came to an end, 'Jiand-de-zhen' (one of the famous provinces in China that produce top quality porcelain) began to resume porcelain production. That was when European ordered Chinese Imari from China.
This is the most famous porcelain family in Japan in 1680. Simple and asymmetric patterns are their significance. They only have green, blue, yellow and red enamel colours and their designs are mostly flowers, dragons, and phoenixes. Occasionally, they have elephants, tigers, horses and figure designs.
THE CHINOISERIE STYLE
One of the types of decoration that was compiled from various Chinese elements, there developed a style that exhibits a much freer, original interpretation. Chinese figures, landscapes, architecture and attributes are rendered and composed in a way that is not Chinese, but semi-Chinese. This kind of style known as Chinoiserie, a style that has its roots in the 17th century, at the end of which it developed to become a dominant mode over the whole of Europe in the first half of the 18th century. In the Chinoiserie designs the painter chose above all the elements that were regarded by the public as characteristic of the exotic Far-East, combining them into scenes of his own invention. Porcelain pagodas, dragons, fu-dogs and phoenixes, meditation sages, buildings with upward curving roofs, gardens and landscapes with flowering trees and rocks belonged in the image people had of China and were thus depicted on faience. In general China, and Japan with it, was seen as a paradisiacal place, where just emperors exercised their salutary and enlightened rule in accordance with lofty philosophical principles and by virtue of the will of the people. Thus China was an ideal: a vague, far-off country where everything was better.
Porcelain of the reign of Kang Hsi (1662-1722), exhibits an enormous variety of forms and decorations. The European demand for coloured ware led to all kinds of decorations in overglaze enamel colour. In the 19th century, these were classified by A. Jacquemart on the basis of the predominant into families: noire (black), jaune (yellow), verte (green), and rose (red), an enamel colour introduced around 1720.
Although glazed pottery has a very long history in China, it was in the T'ang Dynasty (618-907) that potters began to take a serious interest into the use of more coloured glazes other than the simple families of greens and browns. The glazing techniques of many basic colours in porcelain were introduced in the Sung Dynasty (960-1279). Yet the triumph of the potters in the mastery of the widest range of glazing techniques was seen in the coloured wares of the Ming and Ching Dynasties.
Red is a favourite colour of the Chinese and is always much used in festivals and on auspicious occasions. The earliest significant copper are glaze was that found in the Chun wares of the Sung Dynasty. Accomplishment in the much loved copper-red wares did not reach its proper heights until the Yuan Dynasty and was brought to perfection in the early Ming Dynasty.
Potters of the Ching Dynasty with the greater range of techniques at their disposal introduced a series of new varieties of red glaze. The more notable ones are the Ching 'Sang-de-boeuf', or 'Lang-yao', the peach bloom, the ruby-red and the coral-red of the Kang Hsi, Yung-Cheng and Chien-Lung reigns. The aubergine colour, coming from the manganese in the glaze, first appeared in the 'San-tsai' wares of the Ming Dynasty. It became popular in monochrome wares of the Ching Dynasty. Many of the aubergine wares produced in the reign of Kang Hsi are of a very dark lustrous tone while some violet wares of the same period are decorated with very fine incised patterns on inner and outer walls.
As early as the Tang Dynasty, cobalt blue was used in the decoration of the famous low fired mortuary wares. In the Ching Dynasty the sacrificial blue is quite commonly found among imperial wares. An interesting development of the blue glaze in the 17th and 18th centuries was the revival of interest in the turquoise and peacock blue glazes whose ancestry can be traced to the Tsu-chow wares of the Sung Dynasty, applied as an overall medium-fired alkaline copper oxide glaze.
During the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), a green glaze was used on pottery wares. A green colour is produced when a copper oxide glaze is fired in an oxidation flame, and, by varying the amount of lead in the glaze, a wide range of greens can be produced.
Another family of green wares, perhaps the most famous, are the celadons. Originating in the Shang Dynasty, they reached their height first during the Sung dynasty and again in the Ching Dynasty they are produced by the reduction of ferric to ferrous oxide in the glaze.
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