Year of the Monkey celebrated in Australia

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‘Yin and Yang’: the year of the monkey celebrated in Cairns, Australia

The Cairns Regional Gallery in northern Australia is currently celebrating the Year of the Monkey with original artworks from two local artists, Hayley Gillespie and Yixuan Ruan. The exhibition explores the meanings of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs.

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Year of the Monkey is described as being a family exhibition which encourages visitors of all ages to learn more about Chinese language and culture. That was apparent when we visited recently as young people drew and sketched and dressed up in Chinese costumes. A must-see for anyone in the area.

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Interpretation of the Chinese tiger zodiac sign

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Interpretation of The Rat

Compton Verney Chinese collection reopens March 19

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Compton Verney pictured last week    Photo Paul Harris

We can confirm that Compton Verney House in the remote Warwickshire countryside is closed. We know because we went there last week to find the closed sign and the building shrouded in scaffolding . . . our fault, of course, because we had only quickly scanned the Google advertisement for Compton Verney, which displayed opening times but did not appear to refer to the closure.

Compton Verney’s Chinese galleries contain one of the top three Chinese art collections in Europe, according to its website (an interesting claim as The British Museum and The Musuem of East Asian Art would seem to possess considerably more works and there are other significant holdings in France and Portugal). For last year’s opening in March 2015 the Chinese Collection has been re-displayed, which has seen the gallery spaces transformed with new low level cases making the works more accessible; dramatic lighting to reveal the striking patternation on the surface of the bronzes, and more interpretation to help visitors to Compton Verney understand and appreciate the true extent of the collection.

The collection centres on magnificent bronze ritual vessels which, from as early as 1500 BC, the ancient Chinese buried with their dead. As in Ancient Egypt, the Chinese of the time believed that the dead required food and wine to sustain them in the afterlife, and resolved that this sustenance should be served in vessels appropriate to their status and wealth.SONY DSCSome of the most extraordinary bronzes ever cast were made by the Chinese for this purpose.The vessels here were produced over a period of over 1500 years under many different Chinese rulers, and date from the early Shang Dynasty (about 1700 to 1050 BC) to the Han Dynasty (206 BC to AD 220). The collection also includes pottery pieces, such as a set of twelve painted pottery equestrian figures made for placing in a tomb to guard the deceased.The new thematic presentation of the collection sees five different areas explored:

1 Introduction revealing the historical and cultural significance of the collection and setting it into the context of Chinese culture.  This section has also been accentuated with loans of pottery from the British Museum and jade from a private  collection which illustrate that the forms and designs of the works in Compton Verney’s collections continued to be seen in Chinese culture for many thousands of years and were repeated in many different materials
2 Food, wine and ritual revealing the use of many of the vessels and their significance as burial items
3 The Horse focusing on the magnificent three foot high heavenly horse and Tang horse figures
4 Mirrors showing bronze mirrors decorated with scenes of the cosmos and the afterlife
5 Animal patterns revealing the animal designs used on many of the vessels and their cultural significance

Compton Verney House, in its day, was a stately home in the Downton Abbey mould designed by the eminent Scots architect Robert Adam, amongst others over the centuries. More recently, it was bought in a dilapidated state by the Peter Moores Foundation in 1993. Peter Moores was the Chairman of the football pools empire known as Littlewoods and, as a result, a fabulously wealthy man. He used his enormous wealth to create a house which would supply the public with music and visual arts and it is now operated by The Compton Verney House Trust.

We have made a diary note to return in April. We shall return and you will be able to read about our visit here . . .

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Jorge Welsh to mount exhibition of Chinese painted enamels on copper

wallfountain_detail_China of All Colours  Detail Photo Jorge Welsh

Having amassed a collection of over 160 Chinese enamelled copper objects, Jorge Welsh of London’s Kensington Church Street have announced their upcoming exhibition, ‘China of All Colours: Painted Enamels on Copper’. This exhibition will provide a rare opportunity to see a large number of pieces from this fascinating area within the field of Chinese art, and also to explore the formal and decorative similarities with China’s principal artistic export, porcelain.

This intriguing group of objects were developed during the first half of the 18th century, predominately produced in the Qianlong period (1736-1795) and continuing into the 19th century. Made for the export and domestic markets, as well for the imperial courts in Beijing, this type of ware was referred to as yang ci in Chinese—literally ‘foreign porcelain’—becoming known as ‘Canton enamel’ after the main centre of production in China. Produced in relatively small quantities when compared to the production of porcelain, these copper objects were coated with an initial layer of white or turquoise enamel and over-decorated with designs in bright polychrome enamels, some of which are comparable to those found on Chinese porcelain. While porcelain has benefited from much scholarly attention, the subject of Chinese painted enamels on copper remains little explored.

Jorge Welsh said this week: “Our aim with the exhibition is to shed light on this fascinating topic, drawing attention to the specific characteristics of the copperwares, the details and quality of the painting, the objects’ various shapes and utilities, while asking questions that will expand our understanding of the production process and trade patterns.”

Luísa Vinhais explained the title of the exhibition: “We have dedicated many hours to the study of this large group of Chinese painted enamels on copper, acquired over a long period, and now materialising in the exhibition ‘China of All Colours’, a phrase first used by the British Ambassador, Philip Dormer Stanhope in a letter of 1728. This document is one of the earliest known records of Chinese enamelled copper objects in the West. Today these beautiful copperwares, with a very similar look and feel to that of Chinese porcelain, remain an enticing group, which add value and interest to any collection of artworks from the Qing dynasty.”

Some of the highlights of this exhibition include:

  • A Wall Fountain

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China — Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795)

Copper decorated with polychrome enamels

  1. 51.5 cm L. 24.3 cm W. 11 cm

A tall, fluted wall fountain with a domed cover and metal tap, fixed to a rectangular panel with a moulded triangular top. It is decorated with polychrome enamels on a white ground, which include yellow, pink, blue, green, iron-red, brown and black. The container is delicately painted with several Chinese ladies in a landscape.

This impressive enamelled copper fountain was probably intended to contain water, and could be used for ablutions or drinking. Up until the 17th century, before forks became a regular addition to the dining table, diners mostly used their hands during meals. As a result, wall fountains were required for diners to wash their hands before or during courses, with porcelain and enamelled copper examples continuing to be produced well into the 18th century. Wall fountains of this type were probably hung on a wall as opposed to being placed on a side table, and may have been accompanied by a matching basin.

There are two enamelled copper wall fountains in the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

Candelabrum

China of All Colours_rare candelabrum

China — Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795)

Copper decorated with polychrome enamels

  1. 34 cm L. 22 cm Ø 11.5 cm

A candelabrum with a slender double baluster-shaped stem and five branches, each surmounted by a candleholder moulded in the shape of a lotus flower, and decorated with bright polychrome enamels.

The term candelabra derived from the French term candélabres, translated as ‘trees of candles’. From the mid-17th century, candlesticks were produced in pairs or as larger sets, with pairs of candelabra normally placed at either end of the dinner table. The present candelabrum was probably inspired by a European metal or ceramic prototype.

Painted enamel on copper candelabras are rare, and were most likely ordered through private trade. There is an impressive pair of twelve-armed chandeliers, commissioned in Canton by the Danish supercargo Christen Jensen Lintrup (1703-1772) during his fourth mission to China between 1738 and 1739, in Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen.

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An attractive, intricately decorated shell-shaped basin

This year´s exhibition will present more than 160 Chinese enamelled copperwares produced during the 18th and 19th centuries, including among others basins and ewers, teapots, snuff boxes and bottles, tea canisters, spittoons, small cups and saucers.

China of All Colours: Painted Enamels on Copper will be on view at the London gallery 6th-14th November to coincide with Asian Art in London.

About Jorge Welsh Oriental Porcelain and Works of Art

 Jorge Welsh gallery was founded in 1986. Jorge Welsh and Luísa Vinhais are experts in Chinese porcelain – with an emphasis on export porcelain – and cross-cultural works of art from Africa, India and Japan ranging from the 15th to the 18th century.

With galleries in London and Lisbon, Jorge Welsh and Luísa Vinhais regularly exhibit at world-renowned art fairs and events including Asian Art in London, TEFAF Maastricht, La Biennale des Antiquaires de Paris and Masterpiece London.

Their works of art are acquired by collectors and museums all over the world, and regularly lent to a variety of temporary exhibitions.

Jorge Welsh Books, the in-house publishing and research division, has published 20 catalogues and books. The most recent catalogue, “China of All Colours: Painted Enamels on Copper” will be released in both English and Chinese alongside the exhibition.

Three further publications are currently in progress and due for release soon. Together with their research team and independent international scholars, the aim of these publications is to contribute to furthering knowledge in their chosen areas of expertise.

 

 

2015 exhibition details:

 

London gallery

6th – 14th November

Monday – Saturday: 9:30 – 5:30pm

Sunday – by appointment

Open Evening – 7th  November: 5:00pm – 9:00pm

 

116 Kensington Church Street London W8 4BH, UK

T +44 (0)20 7229 21 40

 

Lisbon gallery

20th November – 12th December

Monday – Saturday: 10:30 – 7:00pm

Opening – 19th November: 6:30pm

 

Rua da Misericórdia, 43 1200-270 Lisbon, Portugal

Jade exhibition marks ninety years in business for Marchant . . . and still going strong

Marchant jade 3This year, London Chinese art dealers Marchant are celebrating 90 years in business, having started up back in 1925. Despite the passage of the years, it is still very much a family business, four generations on. And so, coinciding with Asian Art in London (November 5-14), they have just announced a major selling exhibition of some very fine jade pieces.

Apparently, there will be some 90 pieces in the exhibition, and the accompanying book, comprising animals, pendants, vessels, bracelets, buckles, snuff bottles and objects for the scholar’s desk. Several are Imperial pieces and four have Imperial marks.

On the front cover of the associated book is the Hodgson Rhyton, one of the most important jades Marchant has ever handled. It was exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1975 in their important landmark exhibition Chinese Jade Throughout the Ages. Published alongside the piece is related correspondence from Sir Harry Garner, academic and author of many publications on Chinese art.

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The Hodgson Rhyton sold by Marchants to The Victoria & Albert

Jades in the exhibition date from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) to the Qing but the majority are Qianlong (1736-95). Of particular interest, from the collection of the Marquis and Marquise de Ganay, is the water buffalo with a boy seated on its back. There is also a pair of white jade cups with their original stands in the form of lotus petals, dated from the 18th century. They come from an important Swiss collection purchased by Marchant in the 1950s.

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A pair of white jade cups from an important Swiss collection

The exhibition takes place from November 3-20 at 120 Kensington Church Street. The book available at the exhibition costs £80.

Chinese exhibits, buyers and media all seen at Olympia summer Fair

The Ajassa Arte Antica Cines stand at the Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair

The Ajassa Arte Antica Cines stand at the Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair

At the June 18 private view of this summer’s Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair many Chinese orientated exhibits, Chinese buyers and, even, Chinese media were all in evidence.

Exhibitors with strong Chinese exhibits included Turin-based Ajassa Antica, who exhibited at Olympia twice last year; a combined exhibit of Chinese porcelain and works of art by a group of Oriental dealers from Kensington Church Street, a noted centre for the genre; and Paul M Peters Ltd of Harrogate, Yorkshire. Peters, established for almost 50 years in the Yorkshire spa town, showed Chinese and Japanese antiques, as well as some European ceramics and objets d’art.

 The Paul M Peters stand at Olympia


The Paul M Peters stand at Olympia

There were many Chinese buyers visible in the aisles and on the stands, clearly taking advantage of the private view day. Additionally, Chinese Television were in evidence interviewing the organisers and exhibitors with Chinese items on their stands.

Tang Dynasty statue, Ajassa Antica stand

Tang Dynasty statue, Ajassa Antica stand

At the upcoming November 2-8 Winter Art & Antiques Fair the Chinese presence promises to  be even more pronounced. Shanghai-based sculptor Chen Dapeng has booked a very large 197 sq. m. stand at which some 40 of his impressive sculptures will be exhibited. Notable Chinese public figures will be accompanying him to the Fair to launch his exhibit with a champagne opening within the Fair’s own opening on the evening of November 2. Organisers of his exhibit, Paul Harris Asia Arts (www.paulharrisasiaarts.co.uk), promise “something very special” at the event as a new sculpture, a gift of the Chinese people to the UK, is unveiled.

The The Olympia International Art & Antiques (summer) Fair runs until June 28.

Art Antiques London features three Asian Art in London participants

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A general view of the stand at Art Antiques London featuring three participants in this year’s Asian Art in London event. Foreground: two soldier Chinese vases available from Gibson Antiques at £300,000.                       Photo Paul Harris

The Art Antiques London exhibition, in tented accommodation in Kensington Gardens, and which has run from June 12 and ends June 18, features a number of exhibitors selling Asian art, including three participants in this year’s Asian Art in London. Last year, Asian Art in London had a pavilion within the fair featuring a wider spread of participants but, this year, just three showed a range of Asian art: Gibson Antiques, Berwald Oriental Art (both showing mainly Chinese ceramics) and Jacqueline Simcox (textiles).

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Alastair Gibson of Gibson Antiques pictured at Art Antiques London  Photo Paul Harris

Other exhibitors with Asian antiques included Luis Alegria LDA (Porto, Portugal), Marchant (Kensington Church Street, London), Laura Bordignon (Japanese), and D & M Freedman (Japanese and Chinese ceramics and paintings).

Art Antiques London describes itself as ‘the jewel in the Crown’ of the London summer season. It most certainly enjoys an unrivalled location and ambience in Kensington Gardens, a stone’s throw from The Royal Albert Hall. As all the major exhibition organisers get increasingly sophisticated, the organisers, Anna and Brian Haughton, pay great attention to those details which enhance an exhibition: from the learned lecture programme which accompanies the event to the exquisite toilet accommodation which must surely be the best of any event!

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Lion dog finial gracing one of the two soldier vases available from Gibson Antiques.                  Photo Paul Harris

Outstanding Chinese ceramics on show in Manila’s Ayala Museum

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Ayala Museum, Makati Manila, exterior   Photo Paul Harris

Last week, we had the opportunity to visit The Ayala Museum in the Makati business district of Manila, the capital of The Philippines. A privately owned museum, it is notable for its wide-ranging collection of ceramics, approximately 70% of which derive from China. The collection, given on long term loan by The Roberto T Villanueva Foundation, represents decades of collecting of thousands of items dated from the 9th to the 19th centuries. Some of the items held, in our opinion, surpass even exhibits at The National Palace Museum in Taipei and those at The Palace Museum and The Capital Museum in Beijing.

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A 14th/15th century double-headed water dropper (detail)

The current exhibition is entitled Millennium of Contact: Chinese and Southeast Asian Trade Ceramics in The Philippines. Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics excavated in the Philippines effectively tell the story of how the country forged social and commercial ties with China and its neighbours. This display of more than 500 ceramics provides one of the most comprehensive surveys of Chinese and Southeast Asian trade wares found in the Philippines, spanning a thousand years.

These trade ceramics are not only a feast for the eyes, but their origins and the periods in which they were produced also provide important data about the past. There is evidence of the lively trade that occurred between China and Southeast Asia. China exported ceramics to The Philippines and, in return, secured supplies of rare corals and stones, silks and spices. This trade went on for many hundreds of years. Some of the ceramics were developed specifically for this overseas market but others would pass for Imperial wares: most of those on display and dating from after the end of the 13th century were manufactured in Jingdezhen.

Most of these ceramics have now been at the Ayala Museum for 25 years. One of the boards in the exhibition tells the fascinating story of the Grau sisters whose lives were dedicated to the collection. One, Consuelo Grau, was married to Roberto T Villanueva. Her sister, Remedios Grau, curated the Collection. Both sisters were students of the anthropologist H Otley Beyer. Today, the vast collection is held at Ayala and the pieces currently on display represent but a fraction of the total holdings. The signage for the exhibition is excellent and the layout, by country and chronology, is logical and apposite. Our only cavil is the absence of support materials like a catalogue, postcards or hand sheets. However, we are assured that a catalogue may appear at a later date.

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General view of the exhibition at The Ayala Museum, Manila, The Philippines

Courtesy of the Roberto T Villanueva Foundation and the Ayala Museum we are able to reproduce below some of the very fine exhibits on show.

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Above Blue & white yuhuchun vase 14th century; iron-spotted figure of a buffalo rider, 14th century. Both manufactured in Jingdezhen

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Above Fluted celadon vase 14th century; blue & white bowl decorated with mandarin ducks and lotus pond design, 14th century

Possibly one of the most interesting of the exhibits is a 9th century white globular jar from Henan Province. The exploding globular body of this white jar bears a shape that is strongly identified with wares produced in the 9th century. That part of the glaze has flaked off is evidence that the glaze did not fuse well with the body, probably due to under-firing.

b tangjar

White ware came into Southeast Asian markets only during the Song dynasty when silk, porcelain, and lacquer ware were traded in lieu of diminishing copper cash in 1291. White-glazed ceramics have since then been highly prized in China and elsewhere. There are other 9th century white wares from Hebei Province that have been found in the Philippines in small quantities. The Tang dynasty (618-906 A.D.) saw most of the white ware produced in north China. This 9th century white jar is the earliest piece in the Villanueva collection. It is from the kiln in Gongxian, Henan Province, north China. Because the vast majority of Chinese trade wares found in the Philippines are from kilns in south China, this white jar is a rare find (Courtesy Virtual Collection of Asian Masterpieces).

The Exhibition is curated by Rita Tan, President of The Oriental Ceramic Society of The Philippines, and was made possible through the support of the Roberto T. Villanueva Foundation
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Outside the Ayala Museum last week    Photo Paul Harris

Berwick shows off Chinese treasures from its Burrell collection

The northern English town of Berwick upon Tweed is showing off treasures from a collection of artefacts, porcelain and pictures bequeathed to it by the late Sir William Burrell who, of course, endowed the much larger collection owned by the City of Glasgow. Berwick’s collection includes Chinese porcelain and decorative objects, some of which are currently on display in three glass cases.

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Two cases of Oriental pieces from Berwick’s Burrell collection  Photo Paul Harris

Some of the pieces are not without interest although we found the captioning accompanying them to be a bit hit and miss. Whoever did the captioning seemed to be unaware of the difference between certain Chinese mythical animals and has confused kylin with lion dog. Also there is some ambiguity present with Chinese blue and white apparently confused with Delft ware. Needless to say, we have apprised the organisers of these small infelicities!

The Burrell connection with Berwick upon Tweed derives from his purchase of nearby Hutton Castle as his country residence for when he tired of ‘big business’ as a shipping magnate based in Glasgow. His shipping concern brought him into close contact with countries like China and Japan and he obtained some outstanding pieces from both countries.

Despite his fabulous wealth which funded a vast art collection, Burrell was an extraordinarily mean man. A friend of ours, who we used to work with, London publisher Mr Charles Skilton in 1955 produced a lavish coffee table book on the Scottish artist Joseph Crawhall. It was produced on handmade paper with colour collotype tipped in plates printed in East Germany. The price was 5 guineas then (it sells for around £100 secondhand these days) but Charles thought it worth his while to show the book to Burrell, who was the artist’s greatest patron. Indeed, the book contained many plates illustrating Burrell’s purchases.

Burrell leafed idly through the book, gave it back to Charles with the observation ‘very nice’. He forbore to purchase a single copy of the limited edition. After a simple dinner Charles went off to bed early as every body in the house seemed to have disappeared. At 9pm precisely, all the lights went out. Burrell had the master switch installed above his own bed and the last thing he did before going to sleep at an early hour was to turn off the electricity throughout the castle!

The quality of the Chinese pieces is not on quite the same level as his European art purchases. Within the exhibition are some outstanding oils and watercolours by artists like Degas, Boudin, Maris, Crawhall and (Arthur) Melville.

The exhibits have not been widely seen before now and The Granary Gallery in Berwick, which is hosting the show, is well worth a visit. Guided tours, talks and a schools programme are accompanying the exhibition and you can learn more at www.berwickvisualarts.co.uk/get-involved.

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Kangxi blue and white vase from Berwick’s Burrell collection   Photo Paul Harris

Berwick’s Burrell Collection is on show at The Granary Gallery, Dewar’s Lane, Berwick upon Tweed until May 4 2015

Wang Ai brings a breath of fresh air at Hua Gallery

When I went into London’s Hua Gallery for a sneak preview of the new Wang Ai show, which opened last night, my reaction was that these were rather pleasant abstracts created with somewhat attractive autumnal colours: the sort of thing that might be drawn to the attention of Holiday Inn for their next corporate guest room makeover. The sort of thing that would be easy, if not thrilling,  to live with. Then, of course, I went up closer and a whole new world opened up. You don’t often see startling originality in contemporary art but I soon realised that Wang Ai had developed his own unique style. Set amongst these pastel colours with their gentle tones, there was a surprising range of subtly placed imagery: sometimes obvious, sometimes largely indiscernible.  Amongst the ancient Chinese characters, here there was a mountain gorge, there a tank or an aircraft or a helicopter. All this is achieved with outstanding originality and subtlety. 20150121_122621 Spot the car!  Mixed media piece  by Wang Ai at The Hua Gallery

Wang Ai describes himself as a poet, artist and fiction writer in the tradition of the Chinese scholar artist. He was born in 1971 in Zhejiang  province. I don’t know anything about his achievements as a poet or novelist, but I suspect he has mastered these trades as effectively as he has the fusion of rice paper,  tea and Chinese ink. Hua suggest that ‘The use of tea seems to add varying transparent layers  to the pieces generating a sense of texture, although the colour is applied in a flat way.’ His abjurance of bright colours and overwhelmingly successful attempts to convey the inner spirit of his subjects place Wang Ai in a long and honourable tradition. 20150121_123006    The exhibition runs until March 20. More information from www.hua-gallery.com.

Fourth time around for blanc de chine at Marchant’s

Showing at their Kensington Church Street gallery, is Marchant’s selling exhibition of blanc de chine . . . and not for the first time. This is Marchant’s (founded 1925) fourth exhibition of the same name, previous exhibitions having been held in 1985, 1994 and 2006. The current exhibition, which started in time for Asian Art in London, runs until November 28

Almost ten years in the planning, visiting collectors and travelling the world, the extensive exhibition contains 132 pieces of Ming and Qing blanc de chine figures and vessels, mainly from private European collections.  Twenty-eight of these pieces come from the collection of Captain J. Meuldijk, The Netherlands, including the remarkable He Chaozong Guanyin, no. 1 which is in the £80 catalogue and also illustrated on the back cover. They also have three other examples by this famous potter, who is highly regarded in China. The superb Damo no. 11, also from the Meuldijk Collection, is on the front cover.

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The He Chaozong Guanyin (Catalogue No.1) 23cm. high, three-character seal mark impressed on the back  For sale at £180,000

Museums, collectors and dealers have long been fascinated and intrigued by the wonderful porcelain produced at Dehua in Fujian Province, China. From the late Ming Dynasty, the rich thick cream glaze and sculpted figures and vessels have been eagerly sought. Precise dating is difficult, as in most cases reign marks are absent. Dating pieces from unearthed tombs has been a great help, as has the identification of seal marks impressed in the back of figures or the base of vessels.

Provenance is always regarded as a key factor at Marchant’s. Marchant believe knowing the names of previous owners, be they dealers or collectors, is an essential part of their history, and, of course, a guide to authenticity.

Further information on the website, www.marchantasianart.com.

Chinese Turquoise Porcelain exhibition opens in London

This weekend, as Asian Art in London draws to a close, has seen the opening of a selling exhibition of some 50 pieces of Chinese turquoise porcelain. This may well prompt a reassessment of an area of collecting which had become unfashionable.

The exhibition takes place at J.A.N. FINE ART at 134 Kensington Church Street and is on from just November 7-13. It is being mounted by English collector and dealer Jonathan Robinson (www.jonathan-robinson.co.uk). Prices range from £300-15,000.

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Turquoise monster fish water dropper from the Jonathan Robinson Exhibition

He says, ‘In this exhibition I have attempted to show the wide diversity of the turquoise glaze on Chinese porcelain and the rich variety of pieces produced in the Kangxi period [1662-1722], including animals, items for the scholar’s desk and ornamental vases.’

The first use of turquoise glazes in China dates from the Yuan dynasty (1260-1368). The bright and lustrous glaze continued in popularity through the Ming dynasty and was used as the background colour in most Fahua porcelains. Single colour turquoise pieces were rare in the first half of the Ming dynasty. A few pieces do exits, such as a Chenghua mark and period saucer dish in the celebrated Palmer Collection. This unique and translucent glaze is produced by the use of copper in an alkali-fluxed glaze.

turq figure of a cat  Crouching Cat – Jonathan Robinson

Chinese turquoise porcelain from the reign of the Emperor Kangxi became hugely popular in Europe during the 18th century. There was particular interest in France and many pieces were ornamented with rich ormolu mounts to suit the French taste.

The turquoise biscuit porcelain became extremely popular in England from the late 19th century into the 1930s. Rich bankers such as Anthony Rothschild were avid collectors, sometimes paying up to £500 for a single piece. Dealers like Frank Partridge were active in the trade and it is worth noting that £500 bought a very fine house during the 1920s.

turq bottle vase Turquoise vase – Jonathan Robinson

Chinese collectors have never been such keen buyers of turquoise porcelain. Many pieces from the early 18th century onward were made with the Western market in mind. Additionally, there was a general lack of what are known as ‘Imperial mark and period’ porcelain. However, examples do occasionally pop up in auctions in the UK. A pair of shallow bowls with very fine Yongzheng markings and of the period were sold for £26,000 in 2012 by Mellors Kirk of Nottingham. The bowls had an excellent provenance, having been looted from the Summer Palace.

chinese turqoise blue bottle vase 23cm high Turquoise bottle vase www.chineseartinscotland.co.uk

 

Major UK show for Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace

ai weiwei Ai Weiwei

Always controversial and challenging, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei‘s work is to go on show as the launch exhibition of the Blenheim Art Foundation.Opening at Blenheim Palace, near to London, this autumn, the exhibition will showcase more than 50 artworks by Ai Weiwei produced over the last 30 years in the artist’s most extensive UK exhibition ever.The show will cover the breadth of Weiwei’s career, spanning the early photography dating from his New York period in the 1980s, through to new works conceived in China specifically for the exhibition.A renowned political activist, Weiwei has not been able to leave China since 2011, resulting in his working with the Blenheim Art Foundation team from his home in China on 3D plans and models of the site and grounds.Notable pieces on show will include Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold (2010) and He Xie (2010), comprising 2,300 small porcelain crabs.A series of 55 photographs by Ai Weiwei documenting his time spent in New York from 1983 to 1993 will also be showcased, alongside Marble Surveillance Camera (2010), a poignant reminder of Ai’s current situation, and Slanted Table (1997), a piece drawing on the artistic heritage of the Qing Dynasty.

New works created for the exhibition will include the site-specific carpet Soft Ground (Great Hall), and hand-painted porcelain plates with ‘freedom flower’ details.

Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace is the first major contemporary art exhibition to be presented at the UNESCO World Heritage site, which dates back to 1704 and is famously known as the birthplace of British prime minister Winston Churchill.

The exhibition will run from October 1 – December 14.

blenheim art foundation

The Foundation has just presented its mission statement in the following terms. ‘Offering visitors a unique opportunity to experience contemporary art in the historic setting of the Palace and its celebrated Parkland and Formal Gardens, the not-for-profit foundation aims to give the greatest number of people access to the most innovative contemporary artists working today.

It is founded by Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill, son of His Grace 11th Duke of Marlborough. A dedicated collector of contemporary art, Lord Edward has long held the ambition to launch a contemporary art programme at Blenheim Palace. He realises Blenheim Art Foundation with newly appointed Director, Michael Frahm.’