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Ceramics and Glass

Chinese Post Qianlong Ceramics

When Meissen started to produce rudimentary porcelain in 1708, followed by a multitude of other European manufactories springing up in France, Italy, Austria and England, the Chinese export market became understandably less important once its exclusivity was broken. There was certainly a gradual transition that ran the course of the whole century, when export volume was at it's greatest up until the reign of Jiaqing (1796-1820), when it all but petered out.

A Cantonese porcelain garden seat, circa 1860.

A Cantonese porcelain garden seat, circa 1860.

However, during the first half of the 19th century, porcelain still found it's way to these shores, though largely in the form of 'spoils of war', after the so called Opium Wars (1839-42 and 1856-60) and some of this was of exceptional quality having been 'taken' from ransacked Imperial palaces.

A Tongzhi (1862-73) chicken dish.

A Tongzhi (1862-73) chicken dish.

Coupled with the Taiping Rebellion of the 1850s, a staggering 20 million Chinese lost their lives, including the entire population of Jingdezhen. This meant that expertise had to be rapidly replaced from many corners of the Empire and resulted in a broad range of both 'antique' and forward looking shapes and decoration.

Perhaps the final and ignoble icing on the cake during this period of instability was a loss of 'local' influence in South East Asia after losing the Franco-Chinese War of 1884-85 and the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95; and the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion by various Western Armies in 1900.

A Guangxu (1874-1908) Dragon Charger.

A Guangxu (1875-1908) Dragon Charger.

This latter group of porcelain, produced during the 19th century, was intended primarily for domestic production rather than export and has until relatively recently been overlooked.

A Guangxu (1874-1908) Tea Dust Vase.

A Guangxu (1875-1908) Tea Dust Vase.

In spite of the internal tumult that China suffered, the reign of Guangxu (1875-1908) was very productive and has provided a wide range of porcelain for collectors.


Nic SainteyNic Saintey
Department Head

Andrew ThomasAndrew Thomas
Ceramics and Glass Expert