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Chinese Porcelain

Sallea Antiques offers collectors and decorators an extensive collection of Chinese and Japanese export porcelain from the 18th and 19th centuries including famille rose, Chinese and Japanese Imari, and Canton. The oriental potters and painters had produced exquisite porcelain for their own imperial courts for hundreds of years. The term “export porcelain” refers, however, to the pieces made expressly for the European market when, in the 18th century, the fashion in tableware among the European aristocracy shifted from base and precious metals to porcelain..


Famille Rose

A good portion of the Chinese pieces made for export were decorated in the famille rose style which featured luminous opaque enamels in a palette of colors that ranged from pale pink to deep ruby and purple. Theses colors were derived from salts of gold and were first used by German craftsmen. It was the Chinese artists, however, who mastered the chemical process and produced porcelain of a quality, beauty, and design unmatched by European potters at that time. Famille rose dates from the dynasties of Yung Cheng (1723-1735) and C’ien Lung (1736-1795). These colors were termed by the Chinese as “soft” colors (rose pinks in combination with light yellow, green and blue) as opposed to the “hard” colors (underglaze blue and polychrome enamels dominated by brilliant green) that had characterized the reign of K’ang His (1662-1722).

The themes and designs of famille rose decoration are most often natural ones, delicate florals and landscapes, sensitive depiction of birds, animals and insects, done in a fine free hand style. These designs have a slightly asymmetric quality and are rich in symbolism. Peonies were a favored Chinese flower as they represented love and feminine beauty. The willow and bamboo represented longetivity, as did the crane. Among other birds, the peacock was associated with beauty and dignity, the peasant with good fortune, and the cock was symbolic of pride.

Two floral patterns that were particularly popular for 18th century export were “Tobacco Leaf” and “Lotus.” The lotus petal design combined the pink to ruby palette with a gilt border and dates from 1750-1760. Ruby backed porcelains were famille rose decorated pieces whose reverse sides were completely enameled in a deep rose pink color. Some of the finest pieces of this period featured intricately painted diaper work borders and center emblems of flowers and foliage. The use of center emblems and elaborate borders by Chinese artists was a concession to European taste. The best examples of this are the Amorial services, pieces commissioned by families who wished to have their coat of arms and family history commemorated in Chinese porcelain. Many of these were made for the English market and were decorated in the famille rose colors with Western style figures and motifs.

The shapes and decoration of famille rose porcelain are endless in their variety. IN addition to dinner services of up to one thousand pieces, garniture sets, vases and other unusual decorative pieces were as favored by the 18th century Europeans as they are by collectors today.

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