Monday, December 09, 2013

Chinese Blue and White, The Most Collected Chinese Porcelain For Over 700 Years

Collecting the Hottest Market on Earth, Chinese Porcelain

Chinese Blue and White, The Most Collected Chinese Porcelain For Over 700 Years 

Every once in a while someone not familiar with Chinese antiques will ask:

 "what is the most collected area of Chinese art?"


This question has come quite a few times this year as we were selling off the first part of a large collection of Chinese porcelain owned by an American businessman on behalf of his family. The collection contains in total over 6,000 pieces ranging in age from the Tang to Republican period. Including examples done in Sancai, Wucai, Doucai, Famille Rose, Famille Verte, Langyao, Flambe, Yixing and of course under glaze blue decorated pallets. 

NOTE: Starting in January of 2014 we will resume selling the items in weekly listings of roughly 60 to 70 items per week on EBAY under our user name "plcombs". 

Their are after all literally hundreds of category's covering thousands of years of development utilizing a nearly countless list of materials.  Including but certainly not limited to silk, jade, bronze, leather, bamboo, paper, numerous types of stone and wood, pottery, porcelain, silver, gold, coral, bone, ivory, glass, copper, pewter, Paktong, iron, fungus and even anthracite. In other words, if it's a material that can be found or made the Chinese have learned through the centuries at one time or another to work it as an art form.
Yuan Period Blue and White Vases
The "David Vases", Yuan Period, British Museum

From all of these possibilities of interest one general category stands out above all others and that would be ceramics, including the earliest pottery,  Imperial porcelain and Export Wares.

Among the objects falling into the ceramics category one type in particular for universal interest is and has been head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to collector interest.  What kind you ask? Under glaze decorated blue and white porcelain.

No other area of Asian art comes close in universal collector interest, an interest which has endured and dominated for well over half a millennia. All of this contributes to why we titled this post "Chinese Blue and White, The Most Collected Chinese Porcelain For Over 700 Years", because it is.
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Chinese Blue and White, its Infancy and Evolution

The earliest under glaze blue is believed to have begun in a limited way during the Tang Dyansty (618-906 AD), however it really didn't go into common usage until a better source of high quality Cobalt could be found a few hundred years later during the Yuan period when it was imported from Persia. Also, during the Tang period a fine quality highly vitrified porcelain of pure white color had yet to be developed, this happened during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) with the evolution of Qingbai wares.
Song Dynasty Qingbai Cong form vase

Southern Song , Qingbai Kong 


By the 13th C. the stage was set for the next evolution in ceramics, a change which profoundly changed the world of porcelain and Chinese art.  Fine under glaze blue and white porcelain.

During the Yuan period (1271-1368 AD) the Mongols ruled not only China but most of the settled lands west of China extending to the Danube river. This massive empire, five times larger than that of Alexander the Great,  also included Persia, the land of Cobalt!!

While the establishment of the Mongol empire was a violent one of epic scale, the resulting domain under the iron grip of Ghengis Khan and his decedents created ultimately a massive trading empire where safe passage from one land or region to the another was created. Goods flowed from the east to the west and vice versa.



 Early on the Mongols in 1278 AD established the Fuliang Porcelain Bureau in Jingdezhen where the vast majority of all porcelains were being made. This bureau was established to oversee the production of porcelain for the Mongol court known as the Imperial Kiln. There they produced massive ewers, basins, bowls, ritual vessels and oil lamps etc.

The porcelains made during the Yuan period were a sharp departure from the production of the Song and Liao Dynasty's. The pieces became massive in comparison in order to meet the functional needs of the Mongol court for large serving and food dishes suitable for massive banquets. Soon these wares were being produced not only for the Yuan court but for export across the empire as well, through the extensive trading network established by the Mongols, not only by land but by sea as well.
Movie Time!


Cobalt Blue Decorated Yuan charger
Chinese Yuan Period Deep Plate, Circa 1350

Yuan Dynasty Cobalt blue and white bowl
Chinese Yuan Period Footed Bowl, Circa 1350


These larger pieces found immediate favor in the middle east, over the ensuing centuries thousands of examples through the Qing dynasty found their way there. Today the Topkapi Palace/Museum in Istanbul  and Ardabil Shrine in Iran are repositories of some of the finest examples extant, numbering in the tens of thousands.
Yuan to Ming Porcelains
Ardabil Shrine, Iran 1885

 This trading relationship endured and expanded for the next 700 years into the Ming and then the Qing dynasty. Eventually including all of Europe as well as North and South America. Today museums and collections around the world show the results of this long term trade, totaling millions of porcelains of varying quality and age.

Chinese Blue and White, Collecting Today

Whats in the Chinese Porcelain Market Now?


While finding top quality Yuan blue and white pieces floating around the market is a rare event as they can sell for millions of dollars, many great and very attractive late Yuan, Ming and Qing blue and white pieces do turn up in the market regularly.

However, with a little looking and learning about the subject, buying very fine quality blue and white examples for your own collection is within reach of most wallets. Happily the more you know about Chinese porcelain the more likely you will become in finding good examples before they are snapped up by dealers who will charge and arm and a leg for them.

NOTE: Over the last 20 years fraudsters in mainland China have managed to flood the market with stunningly good copies of some very rare types. They turn up regularly at auctions across America, Europe and in China. Today many collections in the west as well as China are largely composed of fakes. Read our other blogs on this topic and save yourself some disappointment. 

Shown below are some examples we've had the opportunity to sell in the last few years, with the exception of the $18,000,000 bowl sold at Sotheby's in Hong Kong during the autumn of 2013. The vast majority of these sold for under $10,000 and several for under $1,000.

Bear in mind Chinese Blue and White porcelain when viewed as a commodity, has never in 700 years gone out of fashion nor gone down in value over the long run.

<img src="Song Dynasty.jpg" alt="rare Qingbai cup">
Song Qingbai Cup, 12th -13th C. (author's collection)


.
The ability to make a fine porcelain by the end of the 13th C., enabled potters and artists to produce fine under glaze blue pieces once ample supplies of Cobalt could be brought from Persia.

<img src="Kangxi vase.jpg" alt="blue and white inscribed vase">

Kangxi Period Wanshous Vase, Sold Nov. 27, 2013 Christies Hong Kong,
for 8.3 Million Dollars US. Height 30 inches. 




Ming Jar from New England Estate Collection
Late Ming Blue and White Vase, Circa 1550-1600,


Chinese Blue and White, The Most Collected Chinese Porcelain For Over 700 Years
Chinese Transitional Period Luohan Food Pot, C. 1640

<img src="Chinese transitional porcelain .jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain food bowl bottom">
Chinese Transitional Period, Circa 1640 Foot
<img src="Ming jar.jpg" alt="Ming Jar from New England Estate Collection ">
Chinese Ming period Circa 1600-1645

<img src="Ming jar.jpg" alt="Ming Jar from New England Estate Collection ">
base and foot, Chinese Ming period Circa 1600-1645

<img src="Chinese Kangxi plate .jpg" alt="blue and white mark and period plate">
Chinese Kangxi Period, Circa 1700
Kangxi Reign Mark alt="Cobalt Blue Kangxi from New England Collection
Mark and back, Chinese Kangxi Period, Circa 1700

<img src="Chinese Transitional vase .jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain vase">
Transitional period Chinese vase, Circa 1640

<img src="Chinese Transitional vase .jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain vase foot">
Base, Transitional period Chinese vase, Circa 1640

<img src="Chinese Kangxi bowl .jpg" alt="large blue and white porcelain bowl">
Chinese Kangxi Period basin, Circa 1700

<img src="Chinese Kangxi bowl .jpg" alt="large blue and white porcelain bowl footrim">
base, Chinese Kangxi Period basin, Circa 1700

<img src="Chinese Ming Teapot .jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain teapot">
17th-18th C. Chinese teapot

<img src="Chinese Ming Teapot .jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain teapot footrim">
base, 17th-18th C. Chinese teapot

<img src="Chinese Transitional period Jar .jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain jar with floral decorations">
17th - early 18th C. Chinese vase, Ming-Qing transition. 

<img src="Chinese Transitional period Jar .jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain jar base">
base, 17th - early 18th C. Chinese vase, Ming-Qing transition. 

<img src="Chinese Transitional Double gourd vase .jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain jar with phoenix decorations">
early 18th C. Chinese vase, Ming-Qing Double Gourd vase

<img src="Chinese Transitional Double gourd vase .jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain jar with phoenix Foot rim">
base, early 18th C. Chinese vase, Ming-Qing Double Gourd vase

<img src="Chinese Transitional Period ink stone .jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain lattice decorations">
Late Ming Early 17th C. Chinese Ink Stone, circa 1600

<img src="Chinese Transitional Period ink stone .jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain base">
base, Late Ming Early 17th C. Chinese Ink Stone, with amber dressing. 

<img src="Chinese Guangxu bowl .jpg" alt="blue and white dragon bowl">
Guangxu mark and Period Bowl, Circa 1890

<img src="Chinese Guangxu bowl .jpg" alt="blue and white dragon bowl foot rim">
foot detail, Guangxu mark and Period Bowl, Circa 1890

<img src="Chinese Guangxu bowl .jpg" alt="blue and white dragon bowl reign mark">

base and mark, Guangxu mark and Period Bowl, Circa 1890


<img src="Chinese Ming Jiajing jar .jpg" alt="blue and white with Peacock">

Late Ming Wanli Period (1563-1620) blue and white jar


<img src="Chinese Ming Jiajing jar .jpg" alt="blue and white reign mark">

base and mark, Late Ming Wanli Period blue and white jar


<img src="Chinese Ming Jiajing jar .jpg" alt="blue and white jar rim">
mouth, Late Ming Wanli Period blue and white jar

<img src="Chinese Kangxi Charger .jpg" alt="large blue and white porcelain Persian market">

Chinese Kangxi for Persian market basin, Circa 1700


<img src="Chinese Kangxi Charger .jpg" alt="large blue and white porcelain Foot rim">

base and grooved foot, Chinese Kangxi for Persian market basin, Circa 1700


<img src="Chinese Kangxi Charger .jpg" alt="large blue and white porcelain detail Foot rim">

smooth grooved foot, Chinese Kangxi for Persian market basin, Circa 1700

<img src="Chinese Kangxi Incense burner.jpg" alt="large blue and white porcelain dragon decorated incense burner">

Chinese Kangxi Period blue and white dragon incense burner, Circa 1700


<img src=" Kangxi Incense burner.jpg" alt="detail of Chinese porcelain dragon decorated incense burner">
detail, Chinese Kangxi Period blue and white dragon incense burner, Circa 1700



<img src="Chinese Kangxi Incense burner.jpg" alt="dragon decorated incense burner footrim">
base and foot, Chinese Kangxi Period blue and white dragon incense burner, Circa 1700

<img src="Chinese Youngzheng plate.jpg" alt="large blue and white lattice plate">

Chinese Yongzheng mark and period plate, Circa 1740


<img src="Chinese Youngzheng plate.jpg" alt="large blue and white lattice plate detail">
detail, Chinese Yongzheng mark and period plate, Circa 1740

<img src="Chinese Yongzheng plate.jpg" alt="foot rim and reign mark">
base and mark, Chinese Yongzheng mark and period plate, Circa 1740

<img src="Chinese kangxi incense burner.jpg" alt="large blue and white burner with foo lions">

Late Ming to Kangxi period Incense Burner, 1635 to 1700


<img src="Chinese kangxi incense burner.jpg" alt="blue and white burner detail of foo lions">
detail, Late Ming to Kangxi period Incense Burner, 1635 to 1700

<img src="Chinese kangxi incense burner.jpg" alt="large blue and white burner with foo lions bottom">
base, Late Ming to Kangxi period Incense Burner, 1635 to 1700

18th C. Kangxi-Qianlong Period Incense Burner, with dragon.


detail, 18th C. Kangxi-Qianlong Period Incense Burner, with dragon.

<img src="Chinese Ming Deer jar.jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain jar with deer">

Wanli Period "Deer" jar, Chinese c. 1620


<img src="Chinese Ming Deer jar.jpg" alt="detail of blue and white porcelain jar with deer">
detail, Wanli Period "Deer" jar, Chinese c. 1620

<img src="Chinese Ming Deer jar.jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain jar with deer foot rim or base">
base and foot, Wanli Period "Deer" jar, Chinese c. 1620

<img src="Chinese Ming fish jar.jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain jar with fish">

Chinese Ming Dynasty, Circa 1600, Fish Pattern Jar


detail, Chinese Ming Dynasty, Circa 1600, Fish Pattern Jar

<img src="Chinese Ming fish jar.jpg" alt="blue and white porcelain jar with fish footrim">
base and foot, Chinese Ming Dynasty, Circa 1600, Fish Pattern Jar

<img src="Chinese kangxi charger .jpg" alt="large charger with cobalt blue fruit patterns">
Kangxi Period Chinese Charger, Circa 1700
Ripening Fruit Pattern

<img src="Chinese kangxi charger .jpg" alt="large charger reign mark and footrim">
foot and base, Kangxi Period Chinese Charger, Circa 1700 (old staple repair)

Chinese Kangxi vase, circa 1700


base and foot, Chinese Kangxi vase, circa 1700

Chinese Kangxi Bowl, circa 1700


interior, Chinese Kangxi Bowl, circa 1700

base and mark, Chinese Kangxi Bowl, circa 1700 (Ming Mark)


Transitional period Chinese Incense Burner, Luohan decoration, circa 1640


detail, Transitional period Chinese Incense Burner, Luohan decoration, circa 1640

detail, Transitional period Chinese Incense Burner, Luohan decoration, circa 1640

detail, Transitional period Chinese Incense Burner, Luohan decoration, circa 1640

base and foot, Transitional period Chinese Incense Burner, Luohan decoration, circa 1640

Two Chinese Transitional Period vases, circa 1645

vases with brown dressed mouths, Two Chinese Transitional Period vases, circa 1645

foot-base, Two Chinese Transitional Period vases, circa 1645

18th C. Incense Burner, circa 1760

foot and base, 18th C. Incense Burner, circa 1760

Ming Period Plate, circa 1600


foot and base, Ming Period Plate, circa 1600
<img src="Rare Chenghua mallow bowl .jpg" alt="sold for 18 million dollars">
Ming Dynasty Chenghua marked and Period Mallow Bowl, 15th C.
Sold for a record price of $18,000,000, Sotheby's, 2013, Hong Kong

<img src="Rare Chenghua mallow bowl .jpg" alt="reign mark and footrim">
base and mark, Ming Dynasty Chenghua marked and Period Mallow Bowl, 15th C. 

interior, Ming Dynasty Chenghua marked and Period Mallow Bowl, 15th C. 

<img src="Rare Kangxi vase .jpg" alt="blue and white vase with flowers ">
Transitional to Kangxi Period vase, circa 1650 to 1700

<img src="Rare Kangxi vase .jpg" alt="artisma leaf decoration and foot ">
foot and base, Transitional to Kangxi Period vase, circa 1650 to 1700




<img src="Rare kangxi bowl .jpg" alt="With Horses and Sterling silver rim ">

Chinese Kangxi bowl with silver rim. Circa 1700


<img src="Rare kangxi bowl .jpg" alt="With Horses detail of the foot rim rim ">
Kangxi Bowl with silver rim foot detail. 

<img src="Transitional Period vase .jpg" alt="pair blue and white vases ">
Chinese Transitional Period vases, circa 1640

foot and base, Chinese Transitional Period vases, circa 1640

Late Ming Blue and White Charger, Circa 1600 (24" diameter)


foot and base, Late Ming Blue and White Charger, Circa 1600 (24" diameter)

detail, Late Ming Blue and White Charger, Circa 1600 (24" diameter)

Chinese Transitional Period food pot, circa 1640

foot and base, Chinese Transitional Period food pot, circa 1640

<img src="Chinese Ming jar .jpg" alt="large charger with cobalt FLower jar">

Ming Period Guan, Circa 1600