Our June talk took us on a journey through the Wanli to Kangxi period of Chinese Blue and White Porcelains from 1572 to 1722. Nicholas Panes, who is a collector of Antique English and Chinese Ceramics and Hon. Vice President of the English Ceramics Circle provided us with history, information as well as stunning pictures depicting examples of the porcelain pieces produced during these periods.
Nick gave us a “potted” history along with an explanation of the “Dynasty” system, which ruled over China – each dynasty is the family or successors of one Ruler, and then as the ruling family changes so does the Dynasty. Also explaining the symbols, as well as the pronunciation, which made up the marks showing the age of the pieces. For dating purposes, shipwrecks have provided really useful tools, as often coins were found and these helped identify the period when the porcelain was produced. Apparently, there were seven shipwrecks during the period from 1572 to 1722
Most ceramics were produced in Jingdezhen, and during the Wanli period, the factories production declined and eventually closed by the Emperor and production was forbidden which gave rise to the Japanese porcelain on the world market. During the period of closure, porcelain was produced for domestic use in private kilns, which was technically illegal. The kilns were restored and production began again in the Kangxi period of about 1677. The slides showed examples of Blue & White porcelain produced before the period of Wanli – some of which are in the British Museum or the Victoria and Albert Museum. The talk was illustrated by examples of dishes, bottles, an Elephant Kendi, wine pots, teapots and various other examples. All beautifully decorated with the styles showing off the styles of the different periods, particularly the “panelling” which was also depicted in the painting by Sir Nathanial Bacon (not actually an artist but a very good amateur), of “A Cookmaid with Still Life Vegetables and Fruit”, painted in the 1620’s which shows the “Krack” – a Dutch word who imported a great deal via the Dutch East India Company.
The talk covered so much of a short period of time, which was extremely informative with humour as well as factual content.