Famille Verte 1680-1725
Several types of polychrome enamelled porcelain were developed from c.1680, during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1662–1722). The so-called famille verte type, its decoration dominated by green enamels, was particularly popular in Europe from c. 1690–1720. The use of blue overglaze enamel was a new phenomenon, but gold was more frequently applied too. Details and outlines are often in black. It is remarkable that verte is rarely combined with underglaze blue. Apparently, the shaping and firing took place in factories in Jingdezhen that were different from the workshops where the enamelling took place.
Besides dishes, plates and bowls, luxury items such as monteiths (glass coolers) were also made. These Western shapes were modelled after pewter, glass or earthenware models. However, Western shapes occur infrequently, while Western decorations are almost non-existent. The usual Chinese decorations show a variety of flowers, animals, landscapes and figurative scenes. Much famille verte was also made for the domestic Chinese market, not just for export. Therefore, many figural decorations are based on Chinese literary sources, copying the woodcut illustrations in novels and plays. For the Western owner these decorations were nothing more than highly exotic, but for the Chinese there were all kinds of intellectual connotations. Only recently have Western scholars started investigating their meanings. One popular theme used on porcelain was the 'Western Chamber', a love story still popular today. Remarkably, European depictions in famille verte are rare.
Famille Verte 1680-1725 - Page 1
Height with cover 105 mm (4.13 inch), height without cover 87 mm (3.43 inch), diameter handle to spout 184 mm (7.24 inch), diameter of mouthrim 53 mm (2.09 inch), diameter of footring 57 mm (2.24 inch), weight including cover 452 grams (15.94 ounce (oz.)), weight cover 46 grams (1.62 ounce (oz.))
Globular teapot on a footring. Straight spout and a curved C-shaped handle. The inlaying flat cover with round knob. Decorated in famille verte enamels with flowering plants, a large pheasant and two birds in flight. Around the mouth a broad border with four cartouches, each filled with a magpie perched on a branch, on a green-speckled ground with half rosettes. On the cover four flowering branches within a zig-zag pattern border. On the knob a single flower head. The handle and spout are decorated with stylized cloud motifs. The cover has been pierced. To the base a rectangular paper collectors label.
Only grown in China and Japan during the 17th Century, tea became known in the Netherlands early because the Dutch East India Company (VOC) shipped small quantities home. Its use as a beverage was established slowly, and was probably started by retired VOC employees who had become accustomed to drinking tea in the East. At a tea party, the expensive beverage was served in small teapots, one for each guest, filled with the leaves of the type he or she preferred. The tea was poured into small cups, while the teapot was refilled with hot water from a metal or sometimes ceramic kettle. The small quantity of famille verte teapots still abound reflects the demand in Europe at the time. Elaborately decorated, they must have been regarded as luxury wares for the upper classes. (Jörg 2011/2, p.131)
For identically shaped and decorated teapot, please see:
- Chineesche Ceramiek. Handboek. Geschreven naar aanleiding van de verzameling in het museum het Princessehof te Leeuwarden, (N. Ottema, N.V. Drukkerij en Uitgeverij J.H. de Bussy, Amsterdam 1943), p.196, cat. 225.
- Aziatische ceramiek uit vijf eeuwen, (D.F. Lunsingh Scheurleer, exhibition catalogue of the J.M. van Diepen Collection, Fraeylemaborg Slochteren, 1977), p.56, cat. 142.
- Famille Verte, Chinese Porcelain in Green Enamels, (C.J.A. Jörg, Schoten, 2011), p.134, cat. 122.
For a similarly shaped and decorated teapot, please see:
Sold Ceramics - Sold Famille Verte wares 1680-1725 - Tea, Coffee and Chocolate wares - Object 2011335.
Condition: A firing flaw to the underside of the cover. A large U-shaped crack around the body. A tiny glaze rough spot to the tip of the spout with a very short connected 2 mm (0.07 inch) glaze hairline (only visible on the inside of the spout).
Lunsingh Scheurleer 1977, cat. 142
Jörg & Van Campen 1997, pp.199-200
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Famille Verte 1680-1725 - Page 1
Height 42 mm (1.65 inch), diameter of rim 342 mm (13.46 inch), diameter of footring 196 mm (7.72 inch), weight 925 grams (32.63 ounce (oz.))
Dish on footring, flat underglaze brown-edged rim (jia mangkou). Decorated in underglaze blue, various famille verte enamels and gold. In the centre a flowering lotus with a large leaf in underglaze blue with nerves and veins in gold, various other flowers and a tree. The sides and rim with three large shaped panels in underglaze blue with iron-red and gold chrysanthemums, separated by flowering plants growing from pierced rockwork near a fence in enamels. On the reverse two stylized flower sprays.
As Howard states the dish is decorated in famille verte enamels, that's why it has been categorised as (late) Famille Verte 1680-1725. The similarity between this dish and object 2012052, that has been dated c.1720, is clear but it is less exuberant decorated in famille verte enamels and it is therefore dated 1720-1740.
Underglaze blue ware, overdecorated in iron-red and gilding was one of the palettes first developed in Japan and shipped from the port of Imari to the Dutch trading post at Deshima, and thence to Europe. These designs became known as 'Japanese Imari'. The popularity of this palette in Europe soon ensured that the Chinese copied many of the designs, and such ware is usually referred to now as 'Imari ' or 'Chinese Imari'. A similar design was also copied in faience at the Belvedere factory in Warsaw, Poland c.1776. (Howard 1994, p.58, cat 32), (Ayers, Impey & Mallet 1990, p.253 cat. 285)
According to Howard, Bondy illustrates in his K'ang Hsi (pl.157), a similar design in the Dresden collection. (Howard 1994, pp. 46-47, cat. 14 & pp.58-59, cat 32)
For identically decorated dishes please see:
- Chinese export porcelain. Chine de Commande, (D.F. Lunsingh Scheurleer, London 1974), cat. 312.
- The Choice of the Private Trader. The Private Market in Chinese Export Porcelain illustrated from the Hodroff Collection, (D.S. Howard, Zwemmer, London, 1994), pp.58-59, cat. 32.
For similarly decorated dishes please see:
- China for the West. Chinese Porcelain and other Decorative Arts for Export illustrated from the Mottahedeh Collection, (D.S. Howard & J. Ayers, Philip Wilson Publishers for Sotheby Parke Bernet Publications, London 1978), vol. 1, pp.144-145, cat. 126.
Sold Ceramics - Sold Famille Verte wares 1680-1725 - Flowers, Animals and Long Elizas - Object 2011371.
For a European (Polish), in faience, copy of these types of dishes, please see:
- Porcelain for Palaces. The Fashion for Japan in Europe 1650-1750, (J. Ayers, O. Impey & J.V.G. Mallet, Oriental Ceramic Society & The British Museum, London 1990), p.253, cat. 285.
Condition: A short glaze hairline in the centre (only visible on the front). Some wear to the black enamel decoration and some shallow fleabites and frits to the footring.
Lunsingh Scheurleer 1974, cat. 312
Howard & Ayers 1978, vol. 1, cat. 126
Ayers, Impey & Mallet 1990, cat. 285
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Famille Verte 1680-1725 - Page 1
Height 82 mm (3.23 inch), diameter 41 mm (1.61 inch), diameter mouthrim 6 mm (0.24 inch), diameter of footring 19 mm (0.75 inch), weight 45 grams (1.59 ounce (oz.))
Small double-gourd vase with a tall neck on a flat unglazed base. Decorated in famille verte enamels, including green, yellow, black, iron-red and gold with two panels one filled with flowering peony sprays the other with flowering chrysanthemum sprays. Round the shoulder flower heads reserved on an iron-red ground. On the neck two panels filled with flower sprays.
At the beginning of the 18th century, there was a fashion among wealthy Dutch ladies to have models made on the scale of a house, the so called "doll's houses". The rooms of these doll's houses were furnished with miniature pieces of porcelain, furniture, paintings, upholstery and all other sorts of objects that would have belonged to the interior of a wealthy home. These doll's houses were very costly and certainly not meant for children to play with but were proudly displayed for friends and visitors and regarded as extremely luxurious items - counterparts of the cabinets of curiosities that were a fashionable hobby of rich men. Only a few of these doll's houses have been preserved. One example can be found in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague showing an 18th century room with porcelain miniatures in cupboards and on brackets along the wall. In reality the majority of these "miniature doll's house vases" would have been part of the interior. A good example of an authentic porcelain room is the famous cabinet in Pommersfelden Castle, Germany, where groups of pieces on brackets are surrounded by these miniature vases lining the borders of the consoles. (Jörg & Flecker 2001, pp.50-51)
For a similarly shaped small double-gourd vase, decorated in underglaze blue, please see:
Sold Ceramics - Sold Blue and White Kangxi Period 1662-1722 - Miniature Doll's House Vases - Page 2 - Object 2010161.
Condition: A short hairline to the rim.
Price: € 299 Currency Converter
Famille Verte 1680-1725 - Page 1
A miniature 'doll's house' vase
Height 57 mm (2.24 inch), diameter 30 mm (1.18 inch), diameter of mouthrim 14 mm (0.55 inch), diameter of footring 16 mm (0.63 inch), weight 25 grams (0.88 ounce (oz.))
Moulded miniature 'doll's house' vase on footring. Decorated in various overglaze famille verte enamels with a border of ascending pointed lotus leaves around the footring, on the body four moulded panels each filled with a single flowering stem, around the neck two sprays of grasses.
At the beginning of the 18th century, there was a fashion among wealthy Dutch ladies to have models made on the scale of a house, the so called 'doll's houses'. The rooms of these doll's houses were furnished with miniature pieces of porcelain, furniture, paintings, upholstery and all other sorts of objects that would have belonged to the interior of a wealthy home. These doll's houses were very costly and certainly not meant for children to play with but were proudly displayed for friends and visitors and regarded as extremely luxurious items - counterparts of the cabinets of curiosities that were a fashionable hobby of rich men. Only a few of these doll's houses have been preserved. One example can be found in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague showing an 18th century room with porcelain miniatures in cupboards and on brackets along the wall. In reality, the majority of these "miniature doll's house vases" would have been part of the interior. A good example of an authentic porcelain room is the famous cabinet in Pommersfelden Castle, Germany, where groups of pieces on brackets are surrounded by these miniature vases lining the borders of the consoles. (Jörg & Flecker 2001, pp.50-51)
Condition: A popped bubble of glaze to the outer footring caused by the firing process and some firing flaws to the base.
Price: € 199 Currency Converter
Famille Verte wares 1680-1725 - Page 1
Circular box and cover
Height with cover 47 mm (1.85 inch), height without cover 24 mm (0.94 inch), diameter 96 mm (3.78 inch), diameter rim box 80 mm (3.15 inch), diameter rim cover 88 mm (3.46 inch), weight with cover 159 grams (5.61 ounce (oz.)), weight cover 82 grams (2.89 ounce (oz.))
Circular box and cover on a flat unglazed base with some adhering kiln-grit to the base. Decorated in famille verte type enamels and iron-red with a leafy flower spray in a double concentric band. The box is undecorated.
It is difficult to identify enamelled porcelain made in the second half of the 17th century for the inter-Asian markets, i.e., the Indonesian archipelago, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Burma and the east coast of India. Written documentation is largely absent and the few Chinese references do not specify shapes and decorations. For underglaze-blue wares we have the Vung Tau wreck of c.1690, but that cargo included no enamelled wares. More information will hopefully come from other systematically salvaged shipwrecks. Meanwhile the literature does not help much either and this subject is rarely broached. Nevertheless, the market must have been substantial in particular after the 1640s when overseas trade and shipments of wares from the kilns in Jingdezhen and in Fujian became irregular due to the civil wars in China. Japanese porcelain shipped by the Dutch and the Chinese, or Vietnamese porcelain may have partly filled the gaps but quantities may not have been substantial enough.
Apart from Jingdezhen porcelain, it was the so-called Swatow or Zhangzhou ware from several local kilns in Fujian that had largely met the demand in south-east Asia.
In 1675 the kilns in Jingdezhen were destroyed and this was a demarcation line in production, marking the end of the extended 'transitional' period and the beginning of a new era, New types were developed for the internal market as well as for export, including wares for the south-east Asian Markets. The new enamel combinations (yellow, red, green) although often harking back to the Shunzhi period, justify the inclusion of these wares in the famille verte context.
A significant number of these inter-Asian market wares have been preserved in the Netherlands , mostly with an Indonesian provenance. They were taken home by retiring Dutchmen after serving in the former Dutch Indies, or collected in situ by people like Reinier Verbeek. In particular the Princessehof Museum in Leeuwarden and the Groninger Museum have a good selection of these wares. (Jörg 2011/2, p.27)
The exact purpose of these circular covered boxes is unclear, but in their pristine glazed condition they were attractive evidence of the delicacy of eastern porcelain, and merchants probably had little difficulty in selling them in Europe for patches, pills and other uses. (Howard 1994, pp.220-221)
Condition: Two chips and a frit to the inner rim of the box.
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