Posts Tagged ‘Chinese’

Coffee/chocolate pot with multiple repairs, c.1800

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

This unusual form porcelain coffee/chocolate pot was made in China during the Jiaqing period (1796-1820) for export to North America and Europe. Standing 7″ tall, it is decorated in blue underglaze, depicting people on bridges, walls, pagodas, and flowers. Its tall form suggests it is a coffee or chocolate pot, but it might just be a tall teapot. If anyone has more information to help identify the original use of this pot, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.

If you know anything about me by now, you know that I love finding antiques with multiple repairs, and this pot is a doozy. This survivor has been fitted with a replaced silver spout, a replacement handle of bronze with woven wicker wrapping, and a lid with a tin collar.  That each unique repair is made from a different material suggests that the original owner must have been clumsy, as I feel the repairs were made at separate times during the 19th century. But I am glad this pot was cherished enough to warrant three individual trips to the china mender and/or tinker to extend the life and service of this little gem.

This pot with similar form is intact and shows what the original handle and spout on mine might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of LiveAuctioneers 

Chinese Batavia ware teapot, c.1750

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

This globular form teapot was made in China during the Qianlong dynasty (1736-1795) for export to Europe and North America. It measures 5″ tall and 7-1/2″ wide from spout to handle and is decorated in the rouge-de-fer palette, with painted flowers in asymmetrical reserves using red, orange, and black enamels with gilt highlights on a chocolate brown ground. Batavia ware, aka Capuchin ware or Cafe au lait, was highly favored by the Dutch and named for the city of Batavia (today Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia), the center of Dutch trade in the 18th century.

An iron sleeve with sawtooth edge covers the tip of the broken spout, replaced in the 19th century by a local tinker or itinerant china mender. A simple loop iron handle, bearing the remains of white gesso, replaces the broken original. Unlike many similarly replaced metal handles I find wrapped in rattan, this one shows evidence of being an armature, upon which layers of compound were applied then painted to emulate the original form and surface. As this type of unstable compound deteriorates over the years, dealers and collectors have been known to chip away at it, exposing the bare metal. The conservator in my likes an original crusty, compound-laden handle but the collector in me prefers a more esthetically pleasing clean metal surface.

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This teapot, with nearly identical form and decoration, still has its original handle and spout. But in my humble opinion, it is not nearly as interesting as mine.

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Photo courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Kangxi plate with replaced chip, c.1700

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

This porcelain plate, which measures 11-1/4″ in diameter, was made in China for export to North America and Europe during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (1662-1722). The nicely detailed underglaze design in various hues of blue, consists of 8 panels of birds, animals and flowers, with a central circular motif and a border of prunus and lotus blossoms. The underside reveals a variation of the Lingzhi fungus mark, which looks to me more like a lotus blossom.

In the 18th or early 19th century, when the plate became damaged, a china repairer smoothed out the jagged edges left by the break and created a larger, more even space to accommodate a new replacement piece – much like a dentist preparing to replace a missing tooth. The repairer formed a replacement chip repurposed from a smaller broken plate with similar blue decoration and drilled holes in three places on both the large plate and the chip. He then used four strands of thin wire to attach the chip and cement to fill in the holes around the wire. The replacement chip, which is literally rough around the edges, appears to be dancing on the edge of the plate, suspended by a tiny wire harness.

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Chinese cruet with bronze handle, c.1750

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

This pear shaped, ribbed cruet jug with beak spout was made in China in the mid 1700s for export to North America and Europe. It measures 4-3/4″ high and has hand painted cobalt blue underglaze decoration of cherry trees, floral sprigs and a fence. At one point in its early life, the original loop handle, set at a 45 degree angle to the spout, broke off. Some time in the late 18th or early 19th century it was taken to a metalsmith who fashioned a sturdy bronze replacement. The gilding, visible on the terminals only and not on the handle itself, indicates that it was originally wrapped with rattan. It amuses me to see paint speckles all over the jug and handle, suggesting that one of the owners neglected to cover their treasured items when they painted their room.

These three examples of similarly formed cruet jugs each have their original handles & lids.

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Photo courtesy of Christie’s

Badly damaged Chinese teapot, c.1780

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

What a sad little teapot this is. Once pristine, this late 18th century Chinese porcelain globular-form teapot with Mandarin decoration in the Famille Rose palette has suffered years of abuse and neglect. It stands 5-1/4″ high and is 7-1/2″ wide from the tip of the spout to the end of the handle. I am told the hand painted decoration shows the Qianlong King making a secret visit to the river bank. Not only did the original porcelain loop handle fall off after the teapot slipped from the hands of whoever was serving tea or tidying up, but the body cracked and is chipped in numerous places. Regardless, the teapot must have been highly valued, as it was brought to a china restorer who created a rattan-wrapped metal replacement handle sometime in the 1800s. The lid did not fare well either, as after it shattered into 6 pieces at a later date, it was hastily glued back together, leaving many large gaps. But at last it ended up in my collection where it proudly stands alongside hundreds of other wounded survivors living together in solidarity.

This teapot, with similar form and decoration, shows what the original handle on mine would have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of William Word Fine Antiques

Amsterdams Bont globular teapot, c.1750

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

This globular shaped porcelain teapot with straight spout, loop handle and domed cover was made in China in the mid-1700s, where it was decorated with branches and leaves in cobalt blue underglaze. It measures 4-3/4″ tall and 7-1/4″ from the end of the handle to the tip of the spout. Soon after its voyage from China to Amsterdam, it went through a colorful transformation.

Although blue and white decorated Chinese porcelain was in high demand up until the mid-1700s, it soon fell out of favor as more colorful Imari porcelains started appearing on the market. In trying to keep up with the sudden demand of Imari, and while attempting to get rid of the less desirable blue and white pieces, clever European merchants struck gold. They simply painted over the existing blue and white decoration with an overglaze of the Imari colors. This practice, called clobbering, is also known as Amsterdams Bont when done in the Netherlands, where I believe this piece was painted. A translucent green wash covers most of the teapot’s surface, revealing traces of the original blue leaf decoration, now accentuated in gold. Additional stylized flowers, leaves and borders are painted in polychrome washes and heavy enamels with little regard to the pattern beneath the surface. Some artists paid more attention embellishing the original designs but on this piece you can see faint traces of the original blue peering through, like the shadow of a fish swimming in murky water. Many purists find the colorful additions gaudy and an abomination but I rather like them, seeing it as another form of making-do.

The silver spout with scalloped plate is a replacement, made in the same style and form as the porcelain original, mounted by a silversmith over 200 years ago.

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This is what my teapot may have looked like before the original spout was replaced and before it was overpainted by the Dutch.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

Chinese bowl with metal bands, c.1800

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

This porcelain bowl was made in China during the Jiaqing period (1796-1820) and measures 2-3/4″ tall, 6-7/8″ in diameter. It is decorated with scrolling lotus blossoms in cobalt blue underglaze “pencil drawn” decoration, a style using cross hatched lines instead of color washes to show shading. It has a blue seal mark on the bottom, as well as an early collector’s inventory label.

At first glance this fine bowl appears unscathed, dare I say “perfect,” showing no noticeable sign of damage or repair. But upon closer inspection, one can see a subtle yet most effective inventive repair. Over 150 years ago when the bowl dropped and broke in half, two simple bronze bands were attached, one along the top rim and the other encircling the base, holding the broken pieces tightly together. Due to the exceptional quality of the repair, I believe a skilled 19th century jeweler was responsible for this delicate work, as the top band’s thickness is an incredible 2/16″ with invisible seams. But most amazingly, not a drop of glue was used to mend this bowl.

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Tiny Chinese Imari teapot, c.1700

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Though this octagonal-shaped Chinese porcelain teapot from the Kangxi period (1662-1722) appears to be a miniature, it is indeed a functioning vessel. Tea was only for the wealthy in the late 17th century; brewed in highly concentrated batches in tiny teapots and consumed in small amounts. This fine example, which stands nearly 4″ high, has cobalt blue underglaze decoration with iron red and gilt detailing. The remains of the original porcelain spout have been replaced by a much smaller silver cap, most likely in Amsterdam in the 1800s. As a precaution against loss, the lid has been shackled to the handle using a fine-link chain. This embellishment may have been added at the same time as the replacement spout.

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This nearly identical teapot with the same form, size and decoration as mine shows what the original spout looked like before the addition of the silver replacement.

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Photo courtesy of Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Magnificent Yixing teapot c.1700

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

This is one of my favorite and, as it turns out, one of the rarest pieces I have in my collection. I purchased it last fall at auction where it was among a small but impressive collection of early Yixing teapots, most with silver mounts.  In total, over a dozen items were being offered; at least half were museum quality. I ended up with 2 teapots, each with multiple replacements, and I paid dearly for them. I only wish I had been able to forgo my monthly mortgage payment and purchase the entire lot so I could keep the assembled collection intact. But at least I acquired this breathtaking teapot, which in my opinion is the best of the lot, along with another rare gem, which I will post at a later date.

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Made in China during the Kangxi period (1662-1722), this Yixing teapot of hexagonal form is decorated with six relief molded panel designs on a diaper pattern ground and depicts spear and sword carrying warriors on horseback. The matching lid, with a beautifully carved seated lion finial, has a diaper pattern ground decorated with scrolling clouds. The intricate details make this piece special, but the exquisite silver mounts and carved wood handle make this piece magnificent.

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When the original handle and spout broke off sometime in the first part of the 18th century, a silversmith of the highest level created these outstanding repairs and replacements. The wood handle is carved with what appears to be a scrolled leaf on top and a tiny grotesque head at the bottom, attached to the body using chased silver mounts. The spout is repaired with silver mounts at the base and at the tip, both handsomely engraved.

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There is a small hole at the top of the body near the spout, which I have seen on other Yixing teapots. Some of these other examples have a small silver mount covering the hole. Does anyone know if this is to allow steam to escape or why on some pieces the hole is covered?

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This teapot with similar form shows what the original loop handle would have looked like on my teapot. For more information, please take a look at other Yixing teapots I have previously posted to see a variety of forms and styles and to learn more about Yixing clay and its unique qualities.

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Photo courtesy of Christie’s

Porcelain blue & white jug c.1785

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

Chinese porcelain baluster-form hot milk jug with sparrow beak spout, made in the mid to late 18th century during the Qianlong Period (1736-1795). Delicately decorated in underglaze cobalt blue, it shows a large vase sitting on a carved wood table and filled with precious objects surrounded by flowers and a pair of bees. The scale of these objects is a bit off-kilter, which adds a whimsical quality. Jug measures 5-3/4″ high and 4″ wide to the end of handle.

The original porcelain handle was replaced over one hundred years ago with a woven wicker-covered bronze replacement. I have dozens of examples of wicker-covered metal replacement handles in my collection, as this was a standard form of inventive repair; and at first glance, the handles all look pretty much the same, but upon closer inspection, you will see a variation in the pattern of the weaving. This handle has a straightforward checkerboard weave, while some of my pieces have the rattan in more than one color and woven in a more intricate pattern. I think a post dedicated to showing the many variations of woven-handle styles would be interesting, don’t you?

This blue & white decorated jug with similar form still has its porcelain handle and lid intact. Before my jug became an example of “inventive repair” it would have looked much like this one.

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Photo courtesy of eBay