Asian Art in London III Jorge Welsh puts on impressive Chinese export ware show


One’s first impression of this exhibition, associated with Asian Art in London and held at Jorge Welsh’s Kensington Church Street Gallery, is of glittering, shiny riches. The brightly lit array of Chinese export ware is breathtaking and leads one to muse how it has been possible to gather together such a cohesive collection of apparently perfect beautiful things.

This exhibition A Time and A Place: Views and Perspectives on Chinese Export Art  focuses on those views and perspectives that show buildings in their settings extending chronologically through the late-17th until the late 19th century, and covering a range of works of art that are illustrative of interest in the subject as a type of cultural expression. While researching for the exhibition and the catalogue, a number of sources such as prints and engravings, for previously unidentified scenes painted in Chinese porcelain were discovered and are in some cases, presented for the first time alongside the actual pieces.

There is a diverse range of works of art, ranging from individual plates, dinner services, tea sets, punch bowls, mugs, snuff boxes, urns, cisterns, vases, and plaques made in porcelain, to folding fans, painted ivory plaques, lacquer, and canvas. These pieces are hybrid objects, both Chinese and European, becoming historical testimonies of artistic interactions between the two cultures.

The exhibition contains over 140 porcelains, paintings and works of art, real treasures of Chinese export art. Below we illustrate just two examples from the show. punch-bowl_jorge-welsh-works-of-art_other-side

Punch Bowl

Qing dynasty

Qianlong period (1736-1795)

  1. 1790

Porcelain decorated in overglaze polychrome enamels and gold

  1. 16.5 cm Ø 38 cm


Panel with a view of Macao

Qing dynasty


First half of 18th century

Wood lacquered in black and decorated with gold lacquer

  1. 85.5 cm W. 59 cm

The show continues until November 11.


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

wallfountain_China of All Colours_JorgeWelsh

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.


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.

shell shaped basin

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

Chinese bidets, chamber pots and spittoons come out of the closet

book review typewriter   ‘Out of the Ordinary’

When we talk of Chinese export porcelain we tend to think of the finely worked grander items produced for a sophisticated Western taste: tea services, dinner sets, tureens and armorial plates are seen around relatively often. Everyday objects, fashioned in unusual shapes, like bidets, chamber pots, spittoons and barber’s bowls tend to surface rather less frequently. Now they are doing rather well: at auction only last week I noticed en export porcelain blue and white bidet (illustrated in this new publication) get £3,750. Now we have a detailed guide to these more unusual pieces from Jorge Welsh Books.

bidet L&T

Export porcelain bidet. £3,750 last week at Lyon & Turnbull

Chinese export porcelain was produced in an extraordinary range of shapes during the late 17th and 18th centuries, some of which are truly out of the ordinary. This lavish catalogue from Jorge Welsh, who is also hosting an exhibition in his Kensington Church Street gallery, focuses on the most unusual forms of porcelain, frequently ordered in smaller quantities and through private trade.

Most of these items were copied from Western prototypes made in metal, ceramics or glass, and can also be characterized by their functionality. This catalogue (in actuality a large format coffee table book) includes egg cups, strainers, cutlery handles, pudding moulds, custard pots, ladles, funnels, bulb pots, snuff boxes, cane handles, barber’s bowls and chamber pots, amongst others. The sheer variety of forms in this group is a testament to the significant reach of the porcelain trade as well as the remarkable adaptability of the Chinese potter.

Pair of Famille Rose Goose Tureens and Covers

A handsome pair of famille rose goose tureens at Jorge Welsh’s gallery

Commissioned according to the latest fashions, they also provide an insight into the scope of the European orders and the sophistication of contemporary consumer society in Europe at this time. The popularity of new, exotic and luxury products such as tea, coffee, chocolate and various spices, as well as some alcoholic beverages, stimulated new social practices and the need for numerous porcelain utensils. Also used for personal grooming, fashionable accoutrements and furnishing the home, Chinese porcelain permeated many of the more intimate aspects of daily life during this period.

The book is particularly well illustrated. If £100 seems a bit on the steep side, I do remember the advice given me years ago by an old China hand. ‘You should always lay aside 10% of your buying budget for reference books.’ They don’t depreciate in value, either. I have seen a shelf of sought after Chinese art reference books make as much as £10,000 at auction.


OUT OF THE ORDINARY  LIVING WITH CHINESE EXPORT PORCELAIN    Published by Jorge Welsh Books, London and Lisbon, October 2014

  • Language: English
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 978-0-9573547-1-5
  • 23.5 × 29.7 cm
  • 344 pages, 351 colour illustrations
  • £100.00