Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Chinese Porcelain


Monochromes 1700-1900


Page 1

Ceramics with a monochrome glaze have a long tradition in China, the earliest being that applied by potters of the Shang dynasty (c.14th-11th century B.C.). Monochromes continued to be made throughout the Ming dynasty. The great era of monochromes begins at the end of the 17th century when the Jingdezhen kilns had been reorganised and the links with the court re-established. The emperors Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong were all interested in craftsmanship and technical virtuosity and as a result the search for new shapes and glazes was promoted. The great variety in monochrome glazes that became available in the 18th century can be divided into two groups: the monochromes fired at a high temperature and those fired at a lower temperature in a muffle kiln. The first group is the largest and includes, the cobalt blues ranging from a very dark, even blue and the powder blue variety to the light blue clair de lune glaze. Colours based on copper pigments include sang de boeuf or 'ox blood', 'peach bloom' and other varieties of copper red. Then there are the various browns, ranging from the dark 'Batavia brown', which was very popular in the 18th century, to a light brown. The green celadon glaze also belongs to this category, as do the simple white monochromes and the rarer 'tea dust', 'iron rust' and lustrous 'mirror black' glazes. The low-temperature wares include various shades of green, the imperial and other yellows and the relatively scarce coral red. On monochromes the Chinese could not abandon their love of decoration, so a rather formal pattern of dragons, flowers or scrolls is often incised under the glaze or painted in overglaze gold, reflecting the taste of the court. Monochromes were primarily intended for the Chinese market, but some inevitably reached the West in the 18th century as private merchandise. The greatly appealed to the prevailing rococo taste and were eagerly collected. Monochromes continued to be made in the 19th century and a wide range of good pieces is known. (Jörg & Van Campen 1997, pp.229-230)


Strictly speaking, the white, undecorated blanc de Chine porcelains made in Dehua also belong to the monochromes, but as is customary they have been treated as a separate category (see Chinese Porcelain - Blanc de Chine 1600-1900), as have the powder blue pieces (see Chinese porcelain - Powder Blue 1700-1725)


Monochromes 1700-1900 - Page 1


Object 2012050








Height 44 mm (1.73 inch), diameter of rim 275 mm (10.83 inch), diameter of footring 157 mm (6.18 inch), weight 588 grams (20.74 ounce (oz.))


Dish on footring, panelled sides and undulating rim. Undecorated. Marked on the base with the symbol mark 'Mandarin mark of honour', in a double circle, underglaze blue.


In this monochrome state these type of 'raw' (undecorated) dishes did not belong to the regular assortment used for export to the West. Normally they would have been used for decorating with enamels or Chine de commande designs in Canton after which they were exported to the West. The few 'raw' dishes that did end up in the West were normally used for over-decorating. This rare example survived all decorators in China as well as in the West.   


Condition: A firing flaw to the base, some glaze rough spots, a frit and a hairline to the rm.


Price: € 499 - $ 535 - £ 420

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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