Department of Anthropology

Chinese Export Porcelain

  • Type: Porcelain
  • Date range: c.1660-1800
  • Peak: c.1700-1780
  • Place of origin: China

Chinese porcelain was made from a combination of kaolin clay and finely ground feldspathic rock. It can be distinguished from other ceramic wares because of a high-gloss glaze fused to the body. The hard-paste body ranges from white to bluish-white. The fabric is extremely tight-grained, translucent, vitrified with glass-like qualities. Chinese export porcelain was produced for European, British and North American markets.

Underglaze blue

"Imari" style

The decoration included the underglaze blue, but it combined this with overglaze red and gold. The designs were often "busy," with emphasis on rosettes and compartmenting panels. The style has acquired the name "Imari" from the Japanese port that the wares were shipped from. Like all overglaze painting on porcelain, the red and gold become unstable when buried in the ground, and the colours may cling more closely to the dirt than to the porcelain.

The "Imari" style dates between c. 1700-1780.

See Noel Hume 1976: 258-259

Batavian

Batavian Chinese export porcelain is characterized by iron wash or "dead leaf" on the vessel exterior. This gives the exterior of the vessel a brown appearance. The interior of the vessel is often decorated with underglaze blue.

The Batavian style of decoration was common between c.1740-1780.

See Davis, Cottreau and Niven 1987:40


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  • Left: Imari style
  • Right: "Blue and White"