Object: Porcelain Dish

E/1967/26/8
Dynastic China
Qing Dynasty, ca. 1796-1820
Materials: Porcelain, assorted colored glazes

Porcelain is made from a special type of clay called Kaolin, giving porcelain its distinctive white color.  The Kaolin is processed, shaped by the potter, given a primary glaze and then fired to over 1200°C to make the undecorated object. The porcelain is then ready for the application of colorful enamels, which make up the surface decoration.  With a second firing, the enamels bind to the glaze forming a smooth, bright surface.

The porcelain ceramic style was first developed in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) and became popular with the Chinese Emperors. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279) mass production of porcelain began with many of these beautiful objects being exported.  Porcelain became popular with the wealthy in Europe during the Medieval Period but the techniques remained a trade secret until German alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger successfully recreated them in 1708. Böttger’s work is an early example of industrial espionage as Böttger used reverse engineering techniques that remain popular in a wide range of modern industries.

This Qing Ceramic Dish are decorated with many colorful fruits and butterflies which demonstrate the influences of the European style through enamels and symbols. With such high demand and variation in the works, forgeries are common. Many of the porcelain pieces for sale today are imitations of the classic porcelain style. This great demand has also revitalized traditional porcelain techniques ushering in a golden age for hand-crafted Chinese porcelain.The following video demonstrates how porcelain bowls are made using an electric potter’s wheel instead of traditional foot powered wheel.

Work Cited

Asia Society the Collection in Context. “Dish.” 2007.
http://www.asiasocietymuseum.org/region_object.aspRegionID=4&CountryID=12&ChapterID=32&ObjectID=409

Gates, William C. “Asian Art Galleries: A History of Porcelain.”
http://ringlingdocents.org/asian/art/porcelain.htm

Koh, NK. “Relationship between Falangcai, Yangcai, Fencai, and Famille rose.” November,
2008. http://koh-antique.com/history/falang.htm

McGregor, John. “Porcelain: A Short History from 1708 to World War I.” 2005.
http://www.steincollectors.org/PSS/Porcelain/PORCELN.HTM

Nilsson, Jan-Erik. “Marks on Later Chinese Porcelain.” 2000.
http://gotheborg.com/marks/index- china-marks.htm

“Ten Rules on ‘How to Deal with Fakes.” 2000. http://gotheborg.com/qa/fakes.shtml

Seattle Art Museum. “Glossary.” In Porcelain Stories: From China to Europe.
http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/Exhibit/Archive/porcelainstories/glossary.htm.

[Travis Bates}

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