The brilliant lemon-yellow color used as the background and rigorous design Of the floral Objects caught my attention immediately, and the exotic landscape in the main scene indicates its unique historical value as a product of Chinese exports trade. As a native of Canton (also called as Swoon-chow)r am honored to learn that this Lidded Chinese Canton Enamel Vase is part of the Asian Art Collection in the M. I. A. And I consider it as an exquisite item among various Chinese ceramics in M. I. A.
This Lidded Chinese Canton Enamel Vase bears a Ganglion reign mark indicating it was manufactured during Ganglion period (1 736 – 1 795) of the King Dynasty. It is a baluster-shaped vase with a flared foot and short, wasted neck. The final, luxurious gilding of rim and base indicate a second firing had been completed. The vase is 23. CM in height, moderate in size yet relatively deep. This elegant vase is decorated entirely in colored glaze enamels that make its surface extremely smooth. Multiple bright colors used in this enamel vase with a warm lemon-yellow ground project a pleasant and harmonious mood.
The scroll of rosebud on the lid is pink, shaded with a rose-purple color. Its vigorous design is neatly crafted. The vase has various geometric shapes that are not identical due to different widths in rim, shoulder, and base. However, the overall layout of this vase is strongly harmonious, and its movement is fairly stable and rhythmic. The rim, shoulder and base are all decorated with bands of twisted ribbons. The first pink and yellow twisted ribbons decorated within interlaced borders run below the rim. Stylized roses and chrysanthemums are paneled on the neck, alternately in profile and full face, finely shaded with three-pointed leaves.
A band of hooked leaves are drawn eight below the floral buds, presenting an effective contrast between bold and delicate elements. Underneath the leaves is another band of cloud motif filling with tendrils and flowers around the shoulder. On the shoulder, two dragonhead-like knobs, from which loose gilt-copper ring-handles are suspended, are positioned at the widest point of the body. The stepped, domed cover has a gilt-cooper final. Next, filling the background behind the crouched are scattered chrysanthemums, peonies, and camellia.
The horizontal design of camellias is outlined in cobalt blue; the charming harassment are outlined in orange; while the peonies bouquet is outlined in rose-purple with leaves and stems in black. The main dabbed-on background is lemon-yellowish with fine speckles of black. The hanging orange peonies to the left is fringed with drop-like pistils. Besides, the color of rose collar becomes lighten from the outer edges of the petals towards the center, which has yellow stamens and black pistils. Leaves are green, in varied paler and darker tones.
The smaller leaves are shaded in grey, and the larger ones are alternately pale and turquoise-green. All floral objects are rush-painted with a curvilinear stroke, soft and light, starting from the center of the flower; leaves, too, are painted in lightly modulated strokes. The main body of this Chinese Canton Enamel Vase was painted in delicately colored enamels with a countryside landscape with figures. The large crouched depicts a pastoral scene with a lady and two children with European style dressing. The rosy-cheeked woman sits down with an instrument on her thigh.
On her curly hair, she is wearing an iron red ribbon with broad gold- stripe. As for clothes, the lady wears blue gold-edged bodice and a skirt with triples in pale purple and yellow. On her right side, a little boy holds up a bottle of beverage. He is wearing a brimmed lilac hat on his brown hair, a blue coat with lilac lining, yellow trousers, and lilac shoes. The costume is adorned with tied ribbons in colors and trimming in gold. Under the tree, there is another boy in prone position enjoying the wonderful scene. In the background, the dramatic landscape is made up of low and rolling hills, residential houses, trees and river streams.
This scene enclosed within borders formed by the interlinked rue-hi motifs. All borders painted on this enamel vase are slender, smooth and dominant horizontal. Multiple geometrical borders described above have also repeated on the base of the vase. In addition, a band of stylized lapis-blue twisted ribbons across a brown rope decorates the foot. Overall, this extremely dedicated enamel vase has naturalistic characteristics and auspicious emblems that reflect the cutting edge of the Swoon-glazed porcelain. While Chinese ceramic arts rapidly developed during the Mining and King dynasties, it reached new heights in Canton.
This Chinese Canton Enamel Vase was made with a unique manufacturing technology known as the Swoon glazed technique, a decoration style similar to fennec (Powdery colors). The following paragraphs will discuss the artistic and historical value of the Swoon- glazed decoration style. Sherman Lee says, “The greatest innovations in King porcelains are to be found in the enamel-decorated wares. “(Lee, IPPP) Specifically, unprecedented achievement is shown in the development of families rose, which was also utilized for imperial porcelain of surpassing quality called “Raised Enamel” (falling) decoration.
By the very end of the Kananga Period, the falling decoration had developed to become fennec (“powdery colors”, Lee, IPPP), a style in which an opaque white pigment mixed with colored enamels to produce opaque and delicately variegated tints and shades. Particularly, Swoon-glazed decoration is believed to be a very similar style to fennec. These styles are noted for their fine paste, brilliant glazes, luxuriant colors, exquisite carving and versatile forms. Most importantly, Swoon-glazed and fennec styles reveal Western influence through novel and creative design.
Swoon-glazed decoration shows that the craftsmen ad not only inherited the traditions of the past but had also made significant innovations. By comparing similar families rose objects that were produced around the same period, such as the Baluster vase, Bottle vase, and Bowl (Figs. 679, 680, 681), to the fennec Bowl (CPA. 55), one can clearly see the similarity and difference between families rose and Swoon-glazed decoration styles. As for similarity, yellow, red, blue and purple are the most regularly used colors in both kinds.
Both families rose and Swoon-glazed wares are decorated with floral motifs with designs vigorously drawn. Decorations of caches and peonies are also popularly used in both styles. In addition, both decoration styles required a second time firing at a lower temperature after the color had been painted on glazed porcelain. Background Color used and exterior design appear to be the major distinctions between Swoon-glaze and families rose decoration styles. First, colors used on Swoon-glazed wares and the fennec Bowl (CPA. 55) have brilliant yellow backgrounds.
Other colors used are much sharper and brighter than those used on families rose wares. Next, families rose wares show conservative design in distinctive Chinese features, which were suited to the tastes of the literati and officials in feudal China. For instance, King style landscape and oriental style objects such as water lilies, cherry blossoms and bamboo trees are frequently used on families rose wares, whereas roses, violet, and lily, fruits are more commonly seen on Swoon-glazed wares that were tailored for merchandise exports.
Additionally, Swoon-glaze craftsmen adopted western artistic styles in order to produce export goods that pleased foreigners. Therefore, using western painting subjects is one unique characteristic of Swoon;glazed decoration that fraternities it from families rose. The subject matter of these wares is extensive: flowers, western landscape, churches and missionaries. Oftentimes, painters imitated archaic glazes. These Western themes made sense because Swoon-glazed ware was predominantly produced for export trade.
The birthplace of Swoon-glazed wares, Canton, is located close to the sea and at the mouth of the pearl River with well developed rive and land route. It has been regarded as the center of foreign trade, as well as one of the important starting points of “the Silk Road on The Sea. ” Therefore, Swoon- lazed wares rapidly achieved their international reputation thanks to Canton’s well-developed export trade, which spurred the market for regional handicrafts.