Pater Gratia Oriental Art

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Sold Famille Verte wares 1680-1725

 

Famille Verte and Powder Blue

 

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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. 

2010506
2010506

Sold Ceramics - Sold Famille Verte wares 1680-1725 - Famille Verte and Powder Blue - Page 1

  

Object 2010506

 

Bowl

 

China

c.1700

 

Height 58 mm (2.28 inch), diameter of rim 130 mm (5.12 inch), diameter of footring 62 mm (2.44 inch)

 

A chrysanthemum shaped bowl wit spreading sides and a lobbed rim. Decorated in powder blue, underglaze blue and various overglaze famille verte enamels. The petal-moulded steep sides are divided in eight panels on the outside show alternately, some of the "hundred antiquities" in enamels. lotuses reserved on a red ground, flowering plants and butterflies in underglaze blue and a pine or a pavilion and bamboo on a powder blue ground. On the bottom, enamelled in famille verte a lady seated on rockwork holding a fan. Around the lobbed rim a trellis pattern border with four reserves filled with four precious objects. The Pearl stand for beauty, the Open lozenge for victory, the Solid lozenge for good luck and the Musical stone stands for blessing.

 

This bowl showcases the virtuosity of the porcelain producer, who used various decorative techniques in different media for which three kiln firings were needed. (Jörg 2011/2, p.58)

 

Condition: A hairline and minute glaze fritting to the rim.

 

Reference:

Jörg 2011/2, cat. 57

 

Price: Sold.

 

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2012218
2012218

Sold Ceramics - Sold Famille Verte wares 1680-1725 - Famille Verte and Powder Blue - Page 1

  

Object 2012218

 

Bowl

 

China

c.1700

 

Height 73 mm (2.87 inch), diameter of rim 143 mm (5.63 inch), diameter of footring 61 mm (2.40 inch). weight 290 grams (10.23 ounce (oz.))

 

Octagonal bowl on footring with spreading sides. Decorated in powder blue, underglaze blue and various overglaze famille verte enamels. The sides are divided in eight panels and on the outside show alternately, a bird perched on a branch of a prunus tree or flowering plants and some of the 'hundred antiquities' or a river scape on a powder blue ground. Around the lobbed rim on the inside a border with reserves filled with geometrical patterns and flower heads alternating with ruyi heads. On the bottom, flower sprays in a double concentric band in underglaze blue.

 

There is a special category within Kangxi blue and white, namely 'powder blue'. This name refers to a specific technique used to decorate porcelain. Cobalt blue oxide was not applied to the surface of the dried object with a brush but was blown onto it through a hollow pipe that was covered at the opposite end with a piece of gauze. Once the object had been glazed and fired the surface showed tiny dots and patches of blue that suggest depth and create an interesting texture. Before blowing the blue, panels and cartouches could be reserved by covering the surface with paper cutouts of the desired shape. The areas beneath these were still white after firing and were subsequently filled with enameled decorations, usually of the famille verte type, sometimes in iron red, showing birds, flowering plants, landscapes or figural scenes. Gold could be added in a third firing process, but it has usually worn off by now. Powder blue rarely occurs any more after 1725. It was supplanted by 'Batavia Brown', an evenly applied underglaze brown color with panels that were filled with decorations in the more modern famille rose enamels. 

 

This bowl showcases the virtuosity of the porcelain producer, who used various decorative techniques in different media for which three kiln firings were needed. (Jörg 2011/2, p.58)

 

Condition: Four hairlines and a restored chip to the rim.

 

Reference:

Jörg 2011/2, cat. 57

 

Price: Sold.

 

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2011029
2011029

Sold Ceramics - Sold Famille Verte wares 1680-1725 - Famille Verte and Powder Blue - Page 1

 

Object 2011029

 

Dish

 

China

 

1700-1725

 

Height 34 mm (1.34 inch), diameter of rim 208 mm (8.19 inch), diameter of footring 120 mm (4.72 inch), weight 262 grams (9.24 ounce (oz.))

 

Dish on footring with a flat rim. Decorated in famille verte enamels, underglaze blue, iron-red and gold. The reverse of the sides and rim covered with a powder blue glaze. Decorated in the centre a medallion with a phoenix, around it four panels with a rock and flowering plants (chrysanthemum, prunus, peony and lotus) separated by bands with flower heads, a similar continuous band around the sides. On the rim flower heads with leafy branches. The reverse of the sides and rim are covered with a powder blue glaze. Marked on the base: two circles in, underglaze blue. On the base an old square paper label.

 

2011029

(old square paper label to the base)

 

Wares decorated with powder blue ("Mazarin blue", "bleu poudré") and enamels form a specific category within the famille verte group. It is characterised by a monochrome underglaze-blue ground that shows small speckles of darker blue when examined closely. Some pieces are completely covered with powder blue, usually with a decoration in overglaze gold. Others have panels and cartouches reserved on this ground, usually filled with a decoration either in underglaze blue or in famille verte enamels. It is this latter category that is included here. It constitutes a marked exception to the rule that normally "verte" is not combined with underglaze blue. (Jörg 2011/2, p.103)

 

The fact that only the reverse of the sides and rim are covered with a powder blue glaze, while the decoration on the front is of another type, is a combination that is highly unusual. (Jörg 2002/2, p.119)

 

For a similar pair of dishes, decorated in Chinese Imari, please see:

Condition: Some wear to the decoration of the lotus plants, a firing flaw to the inner footring and two tiny shallow chips to the footring.

 

References:

Jörg 2002/2, p.119, cat. 81

Jörg 2011/2, p.103

 

Price: Sold.

 

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