Ch'ing Dynasty vase
Ch’ing Dynasty vase

After the disruption of the Manchu invasion, Jingdezhen was re-established as the porcelain centre and re-organised on a production-line basis. Manufacture and decoration were separated into a number of specialist operations. Even the decoration of a single pot was split up with one man painting flowers, another trees, and so on. To achieve this, a tighter, more precise style was necessary with more attention to detail and the loss of much of the spontaneity and sensitivity of the Ming period.

During the Kangxi reign (1662-1722), a new type of porcelain decoration was invented. Glazed porcelain was painted in enamel and then fired again. Soft colours were used with red predominating. During the nineteenth century, this became known as “famille rose”.

Cloisonne enamel decoration was also introduced in the Kangxi reign. The technique was copied from Europe and, in some cases, European artists were brought to China to do the painting. The artists painted their designs on carefully selected white porcelain. The designs were then overlayed with metal wire (cloisonne) and the spaces between the wires were filled with coloured enamel. The craft is so difficult that cloisonne was reserved exclusively for imperial use.

Ch'ing Dynasty (Kangxi) vase
Ch’ing Dynasty (Kangxi) vase

During the following Yongzheng (1722-1735) and Qianlong (1736-1795) reigns, famille rose increased in popularity and new palettes were introduced. Famille verte was predominantly green. The less common famille noir and famille jeune were named after their background colours (black and yellow respectively). Towards the end of the eighteenth century, a style including both rose and verte palettes with rather overcrowded decoration was produced at Canton for export.

Much of the porcelain produced for domestic use during this period was in the contending colours style, or in underglaze blue with overglaze famille rose enamels.

As a result of European and, later, Japanese invasions, porcelain production declined in the nineteenth century and virtually came to a halt with the opium wars of the 1840’s. Jingdezhen was burned down in 1853. It was rebuilt in 1864 to make copies of eighteenth century wares.

 

Chinese Ch’ing ceramics available now
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