Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Sold Ceramics

 

Sold Blue and White Kangxi Period 1662-1722 

 

Western Shapes

 

Page 1

Around 1680, Emperor Kangxi (1662–1722) established his authority over all parts of China after a long period of civil strife. The porcelain factories in Jingdezhen that were demolished in 1675 resumed production and within a few years exports were booming. Chinese junks sailed to Batavia, bringing their porcelain to the market. From there, it was shipped to the Netherlands in VOC (Dutch East India Company, 1602–1799) vessels. However, private individuals bypassed the Company and also imported huge quantities of porcelain to Holland. In Europe, a change in dining habits and the introduction of tea and coffee created new demands. New varieties of Chinese export porcelain were produced, including all kinds of Western shapes. Porcelain, sometimes in miniature, was frequently used to decorate house interiors in Europe.

Much porcelain of this period is decorated in a clear, transparent underglaze blue. Popular decorations included the Buddhist lotus motif, a pheasant with long tail feathers on a rock amidst flowers, and the ‘Long Eliza’ with the 'Dancing Fool', the Dutch name for a Chinese lady and a small boy depicted in a garden.

Kangxi porcelain is very well made, with a thin body, a balanced shape and a smooth glaze without impurities. Cobalt blue oxide was subtly applied in varying degrees of saturation, suggesting depth and volume. The colour ranges from a silvery to a deep dark blue; in the best pieces the details and the craftsmanship are amazing. However, due to stricter controls by officials, the freedom and easy way of painting that was so characteristic of the preceding Transitional period now gave way to a more formal style with an emphasis on symmetry and centralism.

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Object 2012072

 

High-stem goblet

 

China

 

c.1690

  

Height 124 mm (4.88 inch), diameter of mouthrim 74 mm (2.91 inch), diameter of footring 49 mm (1.93 inch), weight 172 grams (6.07 ounce (oz.))

 

Bell-shaped goblet on spreading convex circular domed foot with footring, the cylindrical stem with a horizontal rib. Near upright sides, spreading mouthrim. Decorated in underglaze blue. On the foot a band of floral sprays and on the stem single flower heads. On the bell-shaped body flower heads with dense foliage and insects in flight above an upturned lotus-petal border. Round the rim a stylised laurel border, inside the rim a scroll border.  

 

The VOC started to order Chinese porcelain in European shapes as early as 1634. Objects for the Dutch table were made after wooden models, which served as moulds for the Chinese potters, or were copied from Dutch glass, ceramic or metal equivalents. Such pieces may justly be called Chine de commande, as they were ordered specially by Western clients. The term also applies to porcelain with Western decorations.

In the late 17th and the 18th century demand for Western shapes rapidly increased and Europeans became such important clients that several kilns in Jingdezhen came to specialise in 'Western' wares, probably making nothing else. (Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.252)

 

The shape of this goblet clearly derived from a European (wine) glass of c.1690. A number of similar goblets of more elegant form and decorated with river scenes were in the cargo of a Chinese junk sunk off the Vung Tau Peninsula about 1690. The porcelain found in the wreck of the Vung Tau junk is interesting as an early example of a cargo composed of larger orders and consisting to a very large extent of pieces from kilns attuned to Western demands. (Howard 1994, p. 187)  

 

Goblets of this kind evidently did not remain very long in the repertoire of the kilns - perhaps only around 1690, because no later styles of decoration appear on them. It appears that the European merchants abandoned them in the subsequent period, possibly for financial reasons. (Suchomel 2015, p.155)

 

This goblet would have been used primarily for wine. Typically, in this period, wine was served to dinners from a sideboard; a thirsty individual would request a glass, which would be brought full from the sideboard on a salver or tray, drunk, and then returned for washing and reuse. (Fuchs & Howard 2005, p.126)

 

For some similarly shaped high-stem goblets decorated in underglaze blue, please see: 

Condition: A hairline to the rim and some glaze rough spots to the rib and underside of the cup.

 

References:

Howard 1994, cat. 215

Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.252

Jörg 1999, cat. 51

Jörg & Flecker 2001, fig 53

Fuchs & Howard 2005, p.126

Suchomel 2015, cat. 41

 

Price: Sold.

 

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Object 2011422

 

Ink-well

 

China

 

1690-1700

 

Height 50 mm (1.97 inch), diameter of rim 70 mm (2.76 inch), diameter of ink hole 22 mm (0.87 inch), diameter of quill hole 7 mm (0.28 inch), diameter of footring 70 mm (2.76 inch), weight 160 grams (5.64 ounce (oz.))

 

Cylindrical ink-well on low footring, a recessed flat top with two holes (a large hole meant for the ink and a small hole to hold a quill pen) decorated in underglaze blue with a continuous decoration of flowers and scrolls. Along the rim a zig-zag-lines pattern border, around the central hole stylized lotus buds. On the base a double concentric band in underglaze blue.

 

Porcelain pieces made to order may justly be called Chine de commande, as they were ordered specially by Western clients. Like this ink-well the pieces are easily recognizable because of either the Western shape or the Western decoration.

 

The Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) started to order Chinese porcelain in European shapes since the 1630's through their trading station on Taiwan. As in the Transitional period, Chinese potters of the eighteenth century imitated Western shapes when fulfilling orders from Europe. They used wooden, earthenware, porcelain, glass and metal models sent to China as moulds. It was also common practice to send drawings of the desired shapes, only a very few of these drawings have by chance been preserved. (Jörg 2011/2, p.145)

 

Besides dinner services, tea, coffee and chocolate sets other ulitarian or luxury items were also ordered after Western models. These included cylindrical beer mugs, barber's bowls, butter tubs, chamber-pots, cream dishes, cuspidors and many other objects, their shapes changing in accordance with fashions in Europe.

 

Often it is impossible to ascertain of which material the models sent to China were made, the more so as it was in general not known which was there first: the metal or the ceramic one. Writing material too, such as square, hexagonal or cylindrical ink-pots and pounce-pots, sometimes as a set on a small porcelain tray, were probably made from pewter models. A decoration with small flowers in blue or polychrome was generally used. (Lunsingh Scheurleer 1974, pp.89-91)

 

This Kangxi, Chine de commande, ink-well is a rare object, as writing material it came, most likely, with matching pounce pots or sanders used to shake sand over the just finished writing which had the same function as the blotting-paper.

 

A similar shaped and decorated ink-well can be found in the collection of Oriental ceramics in the Keramiekmuseum Princessehof Leeuwarden, Inv. nr. LY 0530. 

 

Condition: A restored chip to the rim.

 

References: 

Lunsingh Scheurleer 1974, cat. 147

Jörg 2011/2, p.145

           

Price: Sold.

 

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Object 2011956

 

Stem cup

 

China

 

c.1700

 

Height 75 mm (2.95 inch), diameter of rim 72 mm (2.83 inch), diameter of footring 32 mm (1.26 inch), weight 109 grams (3.84 ounce (oz.))

 

Stem cup on a high splayed foot with a broad, flat footring and a recessed base. Wide cup with a straight rim. Covered with underglaze light-brown. On the well of the cup four leaves and round the inner rim a zig-zag lines pattern border both in underglaze blue

 

The use of monochromatic glazes for decoration of porcelain spread especially after the end of the 17th century, but their mass production was apparently short-lived., because the popularity of this type of monochrome style began to wane in the second half of the 18th century and only revived in the second half of the 19th century, apparently in connection with the larger orders of foreign merchants. Dutch collectors traditionally call this type of light brown glaze zeemleer, ' wash-leather'; in French it is known as café au lait. (Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.136), (Suchomel 2015, p.277

 

There is little doubt that the large numbers of small stem cups and wine cups of this size were used in the East for rice wine, while those that reached Europe may have been used for gin. It is likely however, that much of this supply was used in Batavia itself and only relatively small numbers were selected by the supercargoes for Europe. (Howard 1994, pp.186-187)

 

The function of stem cups is not yet clear, but they may have been used for drinking genever (Dutch-gin). The shape is derived from a European glass model. (Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.264)

 

Condition: A frit to the footring and a restored chip with a connected hairline to the rim.

 

References:

Howard 1994, pp.186-187, cat. 214.

Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.136 & p.264

Suchomel 2015, p.277

 

Price: Sold.

 

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Object 2010530

 

Salt

 

China

 

c.1700

  

Height 50 mm (1.97 inch), diameter top 100 mm (3.94 inch), diameter foot 58 mm (2.28 inch)

 

Circular salt on footring with a glazed hollow base, spreading foot and top with a recessed centre. The lower part tapering to the waist, the foliated rim extending downwards. Decorated in underglaze blue. On the foot and shoulder decorated with blossoming branches and flying insects. On top decorated in the centre with a single flowering stem in a double circle surrounded by blossoming branches growing from a taihu rock and insects in flight. 

  

The shape of this piece, is derived from an European silver salt which in turn was decorated with an imitation of a Chinese Kangxi floral pattern. This salt was an exotic object that was prominently placed on a richly laid table. With many Christian connotations, salt was an important seasoning at dinner before the 19th century and salts were larger and more elaborate than they are today.

 

Condition: A tiny frit to the rim, and two very tiny spots on the rim, caused by plopping bubbles of glaze during the firing process.

 

References: 

Hartog 1990, cat 66

Jörg & Van Campen 1997, cat. 295

Jörg 2011/2, cat. 142 & 143

 

Price: Sold.

 

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Object 2011598

 

Salt

 

China

 

c.1700

  

Height 61 mm (2.40 inch), diameter of concave scale 105 mm (4.13 inch), diameter of footring 54 mm (2.13 inch), weight 155 grams (5.47 ounce (oz.))

 

Circular salt on footring with a high splayed moulded foot and a deep recessed base, a moulded bulb between the foot and the shoulder. The concave scale with a recessed centre. The spirally moulded rim, extending downwards, fluted in eight lobes. Decorated in underglaze blue. The moulded panels round the foot are filled with a flowering aster alternating with two panels filled with flowering peony. On the moulded bulb a spiral pattern border and around the shoulder four moulded panels filled with flowering branches. On top decorated in the centre with a single flowering stem in a double circle surrounded by eight moulded spiralling panels filled with flowering branches

  

The shape of this salt clearly derived from an European, possibly silver, example which in turn was decorated with an imitation of a Chinese Kangxi floral pattern. It dates from a time when a salt was an exotic object that was prominently placed on a richly laid table. With many Christian connotations, salt was an important seasoning at dinner before the 19th century and salts were larger and more elaborate than they are today.

 

For identically shaped and decorated salts, please see:

For a similarly shaped salt, please see:

Condition: A frit, two glaze rough spots and some shallow glaze chips all to the rim. 

 

References: 

Lunsingh Scheurleer 1968, cat. 171, afb. 11

Hartog 1990, cat 66

Jörg & Van Campen 1997, cat. 295

Jörg 2011/2, cat. 142 & 143

 

Price: Sold.

 

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Sold Ceramics - Sold Blue and White Kangxi Period 1662-1722 - Western Shapes - Page 1

 

Object 2011441

 

Salt

 

China

 

c.1700

 

Height 64 mm (2.24 inch), diameter concave scale 32 mm (2.52 inch), diameter foot 65 mm (3.07 inch)

 

Exhibited: The Asian Galleries Reinmagined - Color Across Asia held from 21 December 2016 to 13 May 2018 at the Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chaphil Hill, The United States of America, Object Guide no. 16.

  

Salt, the high, domed open body on three small ball feet. The neck widening into a broad rim tapering to the slightly concave top. Decorated in underglaze blue with moulded panels shaped as lotus petals in low relief, filled with flowering peony branches. On the neck and shoulder a zig-zag lines pattern border and a flowering peony plant growing from rockwork on top.

 

In Fine & Curious, Jörg compares, a pair of Japanese, Imari decorated salts with a underglaze blue Chinese Kangxi salt. These Japanse salts are a close copy of the underglaze blue Chinese salt similarly shaped and moulded with lotus-leaf panels and dating to c.1700. Such Chinese Kangxi salts were based, in turn on Dutch ceramic models. Because of the decoration, which does not occur on Dutch salts, it can be stated that the Japanese piece was not copied directly from a Dutch model but from a Chinese example and consequently dates to c.1700. So its shape was copied from a Dutch ceramic original. In turn it was used as a model after which Japanese salts were made. (Jörg 2003/1, p.164)

 

This specific Chinese salt is, in shape and decoration, even closer to the Japanese salts than the Chinese example Jörg uses in his comparison.

 

The material and the Chinese style decoration made this salt an exotic object that was prominently placed on a richly laid table. At this time salts were ordered separately, and only much later as part of a dinner service. With many Christian connotations, salt was an important seasoning at dinner before the 19th century and salts were larger and more elaborate than they are today. (Jörg 2011/2, p.148)

 

Condition: Restored and with a frit to the foot and glaze fritting to the lower rim of the concave top.

 

References:

Lunsingh Scheurleer 1972, p.178, cat. 128.

Impey 2002, cat. 308

Jörg 2003/1, cat. 187

Jörg 2011/2, cat. 142

 

Price: Sold.

 

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Object 2010986

 

Salt

 

China

 

c.1700

 

Height 52 mm (2.05 inch), diameter concave top 52 mm (2.04 inch), diameter foot 68 mm (2.68 inch), weight 113 grams (3.99 ounce (oz.))

 

Salt of circular and square waisted form on a open base. The inside glazed, the lower square part tapering to the waist, the spreading top with a recessed centre, the rim extending downwards. Decorated in underglaze blue with on the sides panels filled with flowering plants and leaves, around the neck a lotus leaves pattern border. The circular concave top moulded and decorated with a chain-pattern around a central flower-head,

 

Modelled after an European pewter or earthenware salt, the material and the Chinese style decoration made this salt an exotic object that was prominently placed on a richly laid table. At this time salts were ordered separately, and only much later as part of a dinner service. With many Christian connotations, salt was an important seasoning at dinner before the 19th century and salts were larger and more elaborate than they are today. (Howard 1994, p.125), (Jörg 2011/2, p.148)

 

Condition: Minor glaze fritting to the rim.

 

References:

Howard 1994, cat. 127

Jörg 2011/2, cat. 142

 

Price: Sold.

 

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