Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Chinese Porcelain


Figures, Birds, Animals and Fish 1680-1880


Page 1

From before the Tang Dynasty ceramic figures had been modelled in China - some depicting visitors from other countries - but the diversity of porcelain models introduced in the 18th century was far greater than ever before. Many were not based on figures, animals and birds known to the Chinese, but were copied from European models introduced by supercargoes and in competition with those already popular in Europe, particularly those made in Meissen. Since the European factories were anxious to increase their own sales, such variants made in China can only have been an attempt by the East India Companies and their servants to buy at advantageous prices - particularly from china shops in the West. Among the private cargo of the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC), ship Geldermalsen, which sank January 3, 1752. a figure of a pheasant, and another complete bird were recovered, both most likely part of the contents of a merchant's 'permitted chest'. The private trade greatly extended this brief by buying large numbers of other figures based on more domestic Chinese tastes, including Chinese deities, immortals, and animals, as well as parrots and other birds more familiar in the East than in Europe. The resulting exchange of ideas and patterns created perhaps the most interesting group of Chinese export porcelain. This is also the most difficult group of porcelain to date with accuracy, for the originals are sometimes obscure or made over a long period, and while some pieces are after European originals of known date, others are based on Chinese tradition or symbolism; while yet more are most easily dated by the figures that later copied them in Europe. (Howard 1994, p.247 & p.264)

Currently there are no Figures, Birds, Animals and Fish 1680-1880 wares for sale.