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The Evolution of Chinese Porcelain : A Comprehensive Historical Overview

Updated: Apr 3

Tracing the evolution of Chinese porcelain from the Song dynasty to the 20th century, this essay delves into the remarkable journey of this art form. It explores the unique contributions of each era, the famed kiln heads, and the pivotal role of institutions like Gauchet Art Asiatique in Paris, in authenticating and preserving these artifacts for modern appreciation.

Technological Innovations and Aesthetic Nuances:

The Song era marked a significant evolution in porcelain technology, transitioning from the Tang dynasty's high-fired ceramics to true porcelain. The era's artisans, known for their understated designs, emphasized simplicity and natural beauty.

Song Dynasty Kilns:

- Jingdezhen Kiln, led by artisan leaders like Huo Zhongru (fl. 10th century), became synonymous with high-quality porcelain.

- Ru Ware Kiln, headed by Zhao Zhongyao (967-1020), was known for its sky-blue glazes and nature-inspired shapes.

Color Palette and Decorative Techniques:

Monochromatic themes with celadon glazes were predominant, alongside the use of iron oxide for brown and black decorations.

CHINA, Song Dynasty, 12th century Junyao-glazed ceramic 'Koro' tripod incense burner. Sold at Millon and appraised by Jean Gauchet, sold for 7,000 euros, photo credits: Yann Girault, Millon

The Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368): Cross-Cultural Influences and Artistic Expansion

The Mongol Impact and Diverse Aesthetics:

The Yuan period introduced Persian and Islamic influences, shifting from the Song's minimalism to more vibrant designs and colors.

Prominent Yuan Kilns and Artisans:

- Jingdezhen, under the guidance of experts like Lu Ji (1269-1354), mastered the cobalt blue underglaze.

- Longquan Kiln, led by craftsmen like Wang Sheng (1280-1350), became known for its large, bold designs.

Gauchet Art Asiatique: Preserving Dynastic Porcelain

The Gauchet Art Asiatique cabinet, with its team of experts, has been instrumental in authenticating and auctioning these historical Chinese porcelains, ensuring their legacy in the modern era. Expert Jean Gauchet and his team are at your disposal to appraise and evaluate your Chinese porcelain, simply by sending photos or making an appointment.

CHINA, Yuan Dynasty, Porcelain footed bowl with blue and white dragon design. Sold at Millon and appraised by Jean Gauchet, sold for 220,000 euros, photo credits: Yann Girault, Millon

The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644): A Flourishing of Porcelain Art

Innovations and Artistry in Ming Porcelain:

The Ming era saw a dramatic shift in porcelain design and color palette, with vibrant colors and intricate designs.

Ming Dynasty Kilns and Notable Artisans:

- The Imperial Kiln in Jingdezhen, under the leadership of renowned artisans like He Chaozong (1537-1587), produced exquisite imperial porcelains.

- Zhangzhou Kiln, guided by Zhang Sheng (1525-1593), became famous for its unique folk-style porcelains.

CHINA, Jiajing mark and period Platter with gardenia flowers, sold at Millon and appraised by Jean Gauchet, for 155,000 euros (Photo credits: Yann Girault)

The Qing Dynasty (1644-1912): The Apex of Porcelain Craftsmanship

Technical Innovations and Artistic Diversity

The Qing Dynasty is characterized by significant advancements in porcelain art, with a vast expansion in color palette and design diversity.

Qing Dynasty Kilns and Influential Artisans:

- Jingdezhen Kiln continued its prominence, with masters like Nian Xiyao (1671-1738) pushing artistic boundaries.

- The Imperial Kiln, under heads like Tang Ying (1682-1756), perfected techniques like 'famille rose' and 'famille verte'.

CHINA, Qianlong Mark and Period, 18th century Rare and important porcelain vase Model known as "Aux fleurs des quatre saisons", sold at Millon and appraised by Jean Gauchet, for 235,000 euros (photo credits: Yann Girault)

20th Century and Republican Porcelain: A New Era of Artistic Expression Modern

Innovations and Styles:

The 20th century and the Republican period saw a departure from traditional styles, introducing new techniques and artistic expressions.

Renowned Artists and Kilns of the Era:

- Wang Bu (1898-1968) became known for his innovative designs, blending traditional motifs with modern aesthetics.

- The Zhi Kiln, led by artists like Liu Yuanchang (1889-1969), gained fame for its creative and modern porcelain works.

CHINA, 20th century Pair of porcelain vases with cobalt blue painted decoration depicting the Immortal Lie Tiegua, sold by Maison R&C and appraised by Jean Gauchet, sold for 12,000 euros (Photo credits: Maison R&C)

Gauchet Art Asiatique's Role in Modern Times:

In contemporary times, the expertise of Gauchet Art Asiatique in Asian art and auctioneering has been pivotal in preserving and showcasing the evolution of Chinese porcelain, from the historical dynasties to the innovative 20th century. The journey of Chinese porcelain from the Song dynasty to the 20th century represents an unparalleled saga in artistic evolution. The contributions of each era's kilns and their heads, along with the distinctive modern approaches, highlight the rich tapestry of this art form. Gauchet Art Asiatique's role in preserving and promoting these pieces underscores their enduring appeal and historical significance.

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