A large famille verte charger

Kangxi period, 1662–1722, China
清康熙 1662-1722 中國

Diameter: 52 cm, 20.9 inches

This exceptional dish is decorated with an openwork design that occupies the whole of the interior surface – creating a circular painting on porcelain. The scene represents a banquet given to honour the Empress Dowager. This was a ritual that went back to the Han dynasty – when the Empress Xu, wife of the Emperor Xuandi (74–49 BC), personally prepared a meal. The banquet takes place in a great open hall where dancers and musicians entertain the royal couple; the entertainers spill out into the foreground – above the plants and rockwork that decorate the bottom edge of the charger.

The decoration is most probably taken from one of the books with wood engravings that were so popular in the 17th century, and the exuberance of this scene in famille verte is enhanced by the brilliance of the overglaze enamels. Of particular note is the extensive use of the blue enamel; also, the liberal use of gilding that remains in a well preserved state. The reverse is sparely decorated with four cranes above waves and rocks – the centre with a zhi mark in underglaze blue, within a circle.


The Hon. Mrs Neillie Ionides, Buxted Park.

Similar Examples

Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong: Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Forbidden City Publishing, 1989 – figure 51 illustrates an equally large charger of this type, depicting a different Imperial scene.

La Maladie de Porcelaine, East Asian Porcelain from the Collection of Augustus The Strong, Leipzig 2001 – no. 27.

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