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Chinese porcelain

The porcelain of China is a major art in China and one of the favourite medium of Chinese craftmen.

During the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), Longquan celadon ware with moulded or incised decoration constitute the most part of the production with underglaze cobalt blue and copper red, with vigorous and sketchily patterns.
Under the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), the Jingdezhen workshops established their primacy. It is the triumph of blue and white porcelains, delicate monochrome porcelains with white, blue or red cover, celadon porcelains with anhua secret scenery. The decoration of wucai porcelain (five colors) appears between the middle of the 15th century and the reign of Emperor Chenghua (1465-1487), a period during which Chinese craftsmen create doucai porcelain (contrasting colors).
The intense blue and white porcelains, and the sumptuous kinrande characterize the reign of Emperor Jiajing (1522-1566), the wucai is more characteristic of the reign of Emperor Wanli (1573-1620).
The blue-white "Kraak type" of the Wanli period (1573-1619) illustrate the development of the export market of Chinese porcelain.
The celadon ware of the Longquan kilns and the famous Blanc-de-Chine of the Dehua kilns were also highly valued. Between 1619-1683, during the Transition period, the porcelain making continues in China. It is aimed at a clientele of scholars or for export market.
Under the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), during the three successive reigns of Kangxi (1662-1722), Yongzheng (1723-1735) and Qianlong (1736-1795), Jingdezhen kilns reached technical heights to produce porcelains of exceptional quality.
Under Kangxi, the Famille verte (yincai) was born. Monochromes have undergone considerable development, notably the ox-blood (langyao) and its variant peachbloom (jiangdou).
Under Yongzheng, the monochrome covers are perfect, porcelain pale blue or celadon paying homage to the stonewares of the Song dynasty guan, ru, jun type and white ding. This period also saw the appearance of a new category of enamels, those of the Famille rose (fencai). Rare in 1720, it asserts itself around 1728-1730. Color glazes are numerous: coral red glaze, yellow glaze, brown glaze, blue glaze, sky-blue glaze, white glaze, green glaze, aubergine glaze.
During the reign of Qianlong, the covers imitate all sorts of materials, the porcelain then looks like jade, coral, lacquer, bronze, wood.... The so-called “flambé” glaze, the powdered blue glaze, or the robbin's egg glaze bear witness to the invention and skill of these craftsmen. The "blue and white" in the style of the beginning of the Ming period, which reinforces a formal archaism, are very sought-after.
The 18th century was the golden age of Chinese porcelain exports to the European countries which constitute their own East Indian Company and set up trading posts in Canton. The production of porcelain called China export porcelain is very active, especially with pieces of the Famille rose, “eggshell” porcelain or dishes and plates with coats of arms.
The Chinese Imari porcelains will quickly compete with the Japanese Imari in the European market.
Porcelain snuff-bottles appeared in the 18th century and developed in the 19th century.

It was at the beginning of the 15th century that the first imperial marks appeared on the pieces intended for the emperor’s court. This practice, which will not be applied systematically, will continue until the 19th and 20th centuries, with, for example, the marks of Emperors Jiaqing (1796-1820), Daoguang (1821-1850), Xianfeng (1851-1861) , Tongzhi (1862-1874), Guangxu (1875-1908).