Posts Tagged ‘Chinese’

Chinese mug with fireworks decoration, c.1760

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

In honor of Independence Day I am pleased to share with you a Chinese porcelain mug with a fireworks theme, made for export to North America and Europe during the Qianlong period (1736-1795). It stands 4-3/4″ high and is decorated in the Mandarin style with cloud-shaped cartouches executed in famille rose enamels, and containing floral sprigs and a family tableau depicting a child lighting fireworks.

I wouldn’t be surprised if during the first organized 4th of July celebration in 1777, a raucous party involving the lighting of fireworks forced this mug to fly off a table and crash to the ground, causing its handle to shatter and the bottom to fall off. Rather than throw out the expensive and cherished mug, it was brought to a local tinker who fashioned a sturdy brass replacement handle. To help insulate the handle from its hot contents, it was wrapped in decoratively woven rattan. The bottom was reattached to the body using five large brass staples with a bond so tight it could hold liquid without leaking. As china menders typically did not sign their work, there is no way to know who was responsible for this repair, but I imagine they each had their own signature style in weaving the rattan so that they could distinguish their work from each other.

These mugs of similar form show what the original handle on my mug might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon’s Mystery Midden

Miniature Chinese Kangxi teapot, c.1720

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

This wee globular form teapot was made in China during the Kangxi period (1661 – 1722) and measures just 2-1/2″ high and 4-1/4″ from handle to spout. It has Famille Vert decoration of floral bouquets tied with ribbon in blue underglaze enamel, iron red and green washes, and gilt highlights. The domed cover, decorated with plum blossoms, has a tiny vent hole, just as its full-size counterpart would have. I believe that this was part of a larger tea set purchased for a child from a wealthy family, as only the upper class were able to afford imported Chinese porcelain.

Without seeing the coin to show the lilliputian size of the teapot, I doubt you would have guessed that this is a miniature. The exquisitely crafted metal replacement spout and rattan-covered bronze handle are superior to the more standard repairs seen on most other miniatures. It seems that someone truly appreciated the stellar repair work, as is evident by the teeth marks at the end of the spout. Perhaps this was just a child’s way of saying “This new spout tastes better than the old one. Thanks, and job well done!”

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This nearly identical miniature still has its original handle and spout, but I think my teapot is the more interesting one of the pair.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

“Not a make-do” Yixing teapot, c.1890

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

I purchased this little teapot thinking it was an example of Chinese Yixing ware with an elaborate early repair. It measures 7-1/2″ from spout to handle and is about 4″ high to top of finial. The shape appears to be typically Yixing but the brass lid, spout and horizontal strap, as well as the unusual incised mark on the underside, made me a bit suspicious. Now I feel the teapot dates from the latter part of the 19th century and was made in China for export to the Middle East, and that the mark on the base is Arabic. The brass spout and lid were most likely a part of the original design to help prolong the life of the teapot and not added to replace broken or missing parts. Learning to know the difference between a piece with an inventive repair and a piece that was designed with metal mounts can be a valuable, though sometimes a costly, lesson. Luckily, I did not pay very much for this “not-a-make-do” teapot.

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Soft paste parrots teapot, c.1770

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

During one of my early trips to the UK in search of ceramics with inventive repairs, I found this charming Chinese soft paste porcelain teapot decorated in the famille rose palette and painted with colorful parrots and flowers in polychrome enamels with gilt highlights. The teapot measures 5″ high and is 9″ wide from handle to spout and was made during the Qianlong period (1736-1796) for export to Europe and North America.

After a tumble, the fanciful spout, which most likely matched the bamboo-form handle, broke off and was replaced by a more streamline metal one with a decorative backplate. Curiously, the handle did not suffer from the fall and remains intact. There is no way of knowing what happened to the original lid, but it has been replaced by a 20th century silver plated cover that fits snugly but looks nothing like the porcelain original. If only this pot could talk!

This teapot with similar form shows what the original spout and lid on my teapot might have looked like before it took a tumble.

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Photo courtesy of Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge Inc.

Mandarin bell shaped mug, c.1770

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

In honor of Mother’s Day I am presenting a Chinese porcelain bell shaped mug from the Qianlong period (1736-1795), decorated with a domestic scene, including a mother and her children. The colorful decoration is hand painted in the Famille Rose palette and includes cobalt blue borders, floral sprays and cartouches. I particularly like the young boy balancing on a rickety red lacquered table while holding a bird above his head, which I can imagine resulted in his mother saying “son, get down from that table NOW or you will fall and break your neck.”

I am hoping the boy survived his table climbing antics unharmed, but it seems this 6-1/4″ tall mug was not so lucky. Sometime in its early life, the mug slipped from the hands of a thirsty drinker and it crashed to the floor, resulting in a broken handle and a large crack to one side. Because Chinese porcelain was expensive and highly valued in the 18th century, it was taken to a “china mender” who formed a bronze replacement handle and covered it in woven rattan for insulation. Four metal staples were applied to stabilize the crack and the mug was able to be used again.

Happy Mother’s Day and remember children, listen to your mother!

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This mug with similar form and decoration still has its original loop handle intact.

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Photo courtesy go Auction Atrium

James Giles Studio overpainted teapot, c.1740

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

This fascinating globular shape Chinese porcelain teapot from the Qianlong period (1711-1799) bears little resemblance to its original form. It was first painted in China with cobalt blue underglaze decoration of mountains, trees and buildings, but soon after it was exported and arrived in England, the local taste for simple blue and white decorated porcelain had waned. In order to keep up with the new demand for more colorful wares, many of these pieces were overpainted or “clobbered” with additional decorations and colors, to appeal to the changing taste in porcelain design.

A fine example, this teapot’s decoration, overpainted in the “Grape and Vine” pattern in black and pink with gilt highlights, appears to have executed at the James Giles Studio in London. James Giles (1718-1780), a porcelain decorator and son of James senior, also a china painter, maintained a studio on Cockspur Street near Trafalgar Square. His wealthy and royal clients included Major-General Robert Clive, Princess Amelia, and painter George Stubbs.

After the appearance of the surface decoration was altered, a more drastic metamorphosis was about to take place. We will never know the exact cause of the teapot’s losing its original spout and handle, but it is conceivable that a fumble resulted in the necessary trip to a metalsmith for repairs. A silver rococo replacement spout, a wood and metal handle, and metal staple repairs to the lid were just what the doctor ordered to rejuvenate the patient and send him home, altered in appearance but able to function once again, pouring tea.

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This globular teapot shows what the original handle and spout might have looked like when my teapot was new.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

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