Chinese / Wine Cup / Ming period, Chenghua era, 1465-1487Chinese
Wine Cup
Ming period, Chenghua era, 1465-1487

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: Chinese
Title: Wine Cup
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1465
Creation End Date: 1487
Creation Date: Ming period, Chenghua era, 1465-1487
Creation Place: China, Jiangxi Province
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Porcelain painted with underglaze cobalt blue and overglaze enamels (Jingdezhen ware)
Dimensions: H. 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm); D. 2 7/8 in. (7.3 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.175
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: Noted for their refined bodies and elegant shapes, porcelains made during the reigns of the Xuande (1426-1435) and Chenghua (1465-1487) emperors of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) are ranked among the finest examples of imperial Chinese wares. Many of the characteristics of 15th-century porcelains result from increased imperial interest in ceramics. Ceramic production during this time--which was the near-exclusive domain of the imperial Jingdezhen kilns in Jiangxi Province--is noted for the development and refinement of techniques for making and decorating wares, experimentation with shapes and designs, and the widespread use of reign marks (inscriptions that identify the name of the dynasty and the reign name of an emperor).

The use of the doucai ("joined colors") technique to decorate this small wine cup with a design of dragons in floral medallions illustrates technology developed in the Xuande era and continued in the Chenghua. In the doucai method, the outline of a design is drawn under the glaze using cobalt blue. The vessel is then fired, and enamels are carefully painted over the glaze to color in and finish the designs. A second, lower temperature firing then fixes the enamels. On this cup, delicate shades of blue, green, red, and yellow have been used to paint the dragons, flowers, and leaves. The overglaze colors match the underglaze outlines perfectly; the precision needed for this type of decoration made them very difficult and expensive to produce. Most ceramics decorated in the doucai method are small, perhaps owing to their costliness.

Since most examples of ceramics using this complicated technique date to the Chenghua era, doucai was formerly believed to have been invented then. The discoveries in a Tibetan monastery and in excavations at Jingdezhen of doucai pieces with Xuande-era reign marks provide evidence, however, that this technique must have originated earlier. Still, the large number of pieces made with this technique during the Chenghua era attest to its importance then. Some scholars have suggested that it may reflect the taste of the emperor's favorite concubine, Wan Guifei, who is thought to have been involved with the production at Jingdezhen.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 78.
Related Document Description: Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd. New York: Asia Society, 1970, pp. 69, 75.
Related Document Description: Sotheby and Co. Chinese Ceramics (auction, London, March 24, 1953).
Related Document Description: Sotheby and Co. Chinese Ceramics (auction, London, May 17, 1966), lot 12.
Related Document Description: Valenstein, Suzanne G. Ming Porcelains: A Retrospective. New York: China House Gallery/China Institute in America, 1970, p. 53.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.175
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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