Posts Tagged ‘Chinese’

Amsterdam Bont decorated teapot, c.1740

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

This Qianlong period globular form teapot has a C shaped handle and an inlaid flat lid with round knob. It was made in China in the mid-1700s and stands 4-1/4″  tall and  7-3/4″  from handle to spout. The original blue underglaze decoration fell out of fashion shortly after it was made, as by the mid-1700s more “attractive colors” were the taste of the day. In order to keep up with the sudden demand for polychrome Chinese ceramics, factories in Europe took the unwanted blue and white decorated pieces and overpainted them with brightly colored enamels, often without regard for the original design beneath. This victim of clobbering, as it is also referred to, or Amsterdam Bont, when done in Holland, has been over decorated with the flower basket motif, one of the most popular designs.

The unusual form replacement silver spout appears to have been made by a skilled 18th century silversmith. It replaced a straight spout, but I think this replacement is much more interesting, and adds to the quirkiness of this twice-decorated teapot.

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This teapot with similar form and decoration shows what the spout on my teapot might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Pater Gratia Oriental Art

London shape tea cup, c.1830

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

This colorful Chinese porcelain London shape tea cup dates from 1820-1850 and is decorated in the Canton rose palette. It measures 2-1/2″  high and has an opening diameter of 3-1/4″ . The outer polychrome enamel Mandarin decoration depicts a scene of scholars in a garden, and the inside of the rim has a deep painted border of dragons with small stylized clouds. This cup was originally a part of a large dinner service, custom ordered by most likely a wealthy English family.

At some point in the early life of the cup, the original porcelain handle snapped off. But rather than simply toss out the damaged goods as we would today, it was brought to a metalsmith, who fashioned a bronze replacement handle in the same form as the original. To me, the dark color and sculptural quality of the replacement handle makes this embellished cup much more interesting than its “perfect” counterpart.

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This tea cup still has its original handle intact.

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Photo courtesy of Hundred & One Antiques

Chinese teapot with silver spout & wood handle, c.1750

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

This large globular form porcelain teapot was made in China during the middle of the 18th century and has not one but two 19th century inventive repairs. It measures 6″  high and 9-1/2″  wide from handle to spout. Both sides have the same Mandarin decoration in the famille rose palette, depicting a family scene in a garden with trees and distant mountains.

But what makes this piece so special is the unusual shaped silver replacement spout with a heart shaped back plate and the overscaled wood replacement handle in silver mounts. I imagine the wood handle was intended for a larger teapot, but it might have been the only option available at the time of repair. I found this teapot in the UK and I have seen the same replacement spout on another teapot of the same period, also in the UK. Although most antiques collectors would rather have an example of this teapot in “perfect” condition, I much prefer the whimsy and uniqueness of this survivor with its quirky embellishments.

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This teapot of similar form and decoration suggests what the original handle and spout on my teapot might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Signed Chinese jug with split handle, c.1740

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

This Chinese baluster shaped porcelain jug, with molded spout in the manner of European silver, has hand painted underglaze cobalt blue Nanking decoration of houses, trees and birds. It dates from the middle of the 18th century and stands nearly 8″  tall.

Over 100 years ago when the original reeded strap handle broke off, an unusual split form metal replacement handle was added. A clever tinker reinterpreted the original handle design by forging a bronze loop handle into four extensions and adding small discs, which were riveted to the leaf terminals. The remains of an intricately woven rattan sheath are found on about one third of the handle. Most curiously, there is an engraved signature on the underside, difficult to decipher, which may be the name of the china mender or of a previous owner. If anyone knows more about this marking, please let me know.

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This jug with similar form and decoration shows what the original handle on my jug may have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

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