Sunday, 15 July 2018

Collecting Guide: 7 Things to Consider When Collecting Chinese Porcelains

1. Examine decoration.
Chinese-taste pieces created for domestic consumption are almost always decorated with Chinese motifs, such as flowers, landscapes, Buddhist emblems and so on. Those bound for the West often incorporate Western themes or designs, which the artists would have received from foreign traders.

2. Chinese-taste motifs.
The dragon, which symbolises imperial power, is one of the most frequent motifs in Chinese porcelains. ‘It is a symbol of the emperor and one of the most sought after decorations for today’s Chinese collectors.

The imperial dragon appears on the finest of porcelains created for the emperor, which also bear imperial reign marks. Eventually, the dragon became an enduring motif and appears on a variety of wares, including imperial, domestic and export.
Pieces can range in value: ‘Much depends on rarity, condition, and provenance,’ says Gristina. ‘There are definitely affordable imperial pieces that are perfectly authentic and available to the new collector.

3. Take a look at transitional wares.  
Traditionally a Western collecting category, porcelains made in the period between the Ming and Qing dynasties, known as ‘Transitional’ wares, are gaining popularity with Chinese collectors.
The kilns in China were not under imperial control at the time, so the painters and artisans had greater artistic freedom. You find a lot of interesting designs and some beautifully painted landscapes during that time period.

4. Consider hybrid porcelains.
There are also hybrid pieces, which blur the boundaries between domestic and export works. Made in the early 18th century, these objects reflect Chinese tastes but were sold to both domestic and export markets. At this point in history, before private European orders were common, demand in Europe for Chinese porcelains was great, and Western trading companies brought back porcelains decorated with Chinese motifs for a demanding clientele.

5. Porcelain objects for the scholar. 
Another interesting sub-category of Chinese porcelains to consider includes pieces that would have adorned scholars’ desks: small brushpots, objects upon which brushes rested, flower vases and more. These pieces were made in a range of materials, such as wood and enamel, and also in porcelain.

6. Do your homework. 
As is always the case, new collectors should strive to see as many works as they can, and get their hands on any and every material that they can from museums, auction houses, and dealers.

7. Look for restorations.
In the past, restorations tend to brown or yellow and flake with time, but new techniques make restorations harder to see. One trick to uncover restorations is to stick a pin in the questionable area; if it sticks be wary. Porcelain that has not been overpainted will not scratch. Holding a flashlight up to a work can also help with spotting hair-line cracks.

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