Chinese / Dish / Ming period, Zhengde era, 1506-1521Chinese
Ming period, Zhengde era, 1506-1521

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: Chinese
Title: Dish
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1506
Creation End Date: 1521
Creation Date: Ming period, Zhengde era, 1506-1521
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 yellow enamel (Jingdezhen ware)
Dimensions: H. 2 1/8 in. (5.4 cm); D. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.181
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: A change from delicate shapes and elegant designs to larger, bolder forms and new decorative motifs distinguishes Chinese ceramics produced from the late 15th through mid-17th century. This change reflects both the weakening of imperial control and the development of new domestic and foreign markets in response to the loss of imperial patronage. Imperial ceramics were produced during the reigns of the Hongzhi (1488-1505), Zhengde (1506-1521), Jiajing (1522-1566), Longqing (1567-1572), and Wanli (1573-1620) emperors. By the end of the Wanli reign, however, the production of imperial ceramics was officially halted, largely because money had to be raised to cover the expense of resisting the Manchu armies, who would eventually conquer all of China.

The ceramics produced at the Jingdezhen kilns in the late 15th and early 16th centuries for imperial use continued the shapes and decoration of earlier Ming porcelains. The decoration of fruit and flowers found on this Zhengde-era dish re-creates motifs, compositions, and a color scheme common in the early part of the 15th century. Five floral sprays embellish the interior: a camellia in the center of the dish, and a cherry, pomegranate, peach, and litchi along the interior rim, or cavetto. These are painted inunderglaze blue, while the yellow ground consists of an enamel pigment that was applied over the glaze.

Although it is based on earlier prototypes, the floral decoration on this dish fills a greater amount of space than do similar compositions on early to mid-15th-century dishes. The style of the painting also distinguishes this early 16th-century dish from its 15th-century predecessors. In this piece, the outlines of the flowers and leaves are not as precise, and the different hues of blue are notas skillfully blended. For example, two tones of blue are used to paint the leaves of the camellias in the center of the dish--a darker blue outlines the leaves while a lighter blue colors their forms. This strict demarcation between the tones creates a flat image that does not have the organic sense of movement found on earlier examples.

Written on the base of the dish is a six-character Zhengde reign mark (an inscription identifying the name of the dynasty and the reign name of an emperor).

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 80.
Related Document Description: Medley, Margaret. 'Style and Symbolism in Underglaze-Decorated Chinese Porcelain.' Apollo (November 1983), p. 407.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.181
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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