After the death of Wan-li, in 1619, there is a long gap in the
history of Chinese porcelain. Some twenty years later, the last emperor
of the native dynasty was driven out by the Manchu Tatars, and the
dynasty which still reigns in the country was founded. But neither
during the reign of the first emperor of the new Tsing or ‘Pure’
dynasty, nor indeed during the first part of the long reign of his great
successor Kang-he (1661-1722), was much attention given to the imperial
factory at King-te-chen. The early years of Kang-he’s reign were
occupied with quelling the last efforts of the native Chinese party. We
may date the revival of active work from the appointment of Tsang
Ying-hsuan,[56] in the year 1683, to the post of superintendent at the
porcelain works. It was then, after an interval of more than sixty
years–almost a blank in the history of Chinese porcelain–that the
great renaissance set in, and we may date from that time the beginning
of the last great stage in that history–a stage which was to last for
another hundred years. During that period a succession of able and
enthusiastic men were in charge of the imperial works. With the support
of the great emperors who ruled in China for three long generations,
they were able to bring the manufacture of porcelain to a point of
perfection reached neither before nor since, and to produce that
wonderful series of vases, bowls, and plates that now fill the museums
and private collections of Europe and America.

It will perhaps be better to carry on our hasty historical sketch down
to the period of decline at the end of the eighteenth century, before
turning to the letters of the Père D’Entrecolles and his account of the
great city of the potter–King-te-chen. We shall then be in a better
position to understand the almost endless series of different wares that
were turned out from the kilns of that town in the eighteenth century.
We can finally make a rapid survey of the porcelain of China, picking up
many threads that have been dropped in the course of our historical

We have seen that the Chinese authorities when describing the coloured
ware of the Ming period speak of two ‘triads’ of colours. One, the
_turquoise_, purple and yellow group, we have identified with the ware
painted on the biscuit and reheated in the _demi grand feu_; while the
other, the _green_, purple and yellow class may be regarded as one of
the earliest forms of true enamel or muffle decoration. These two
classes were now in the earlier days of Kang-he brought to greater
perfection, and as by this time we have come to a period when the finer
wares began to be largely exported direct to Europe, we meet with many
specimens of these wares in our collections.

In the first of these groups the _Turquoise_ is the predominant
colour–indeed it is often found alone (PL. IX.). As a monochrome ware
it is distinguished by a fine crackle, which is always present but is
often only to be seen by a close examination. How much it is sought
after by collectors is shown by the fact mentioned by Dr. Bushell, that
in the Walters collection there are more than a hundred specimens of
this monochrome blue, and of these the majority probably date from the
reign of Kang-he. A combination of this turquoise with aubergine purple
derived from manganese was in favour at this time not only for the
little _magots_ and for small vases, but also for larger decorative
pieces as well as for tables and stands for other objects. It was above
all this combination that was copied by Zengoro and others for the
‘Oniwa’ ware of the Princes of Kishiu, and some of this Japanese
porcelain is very difficult to distinguish from the Chinese original.
The aubergine purple, like the turquoise, always finely crackled, is
seldom found alone in Chinese examples, but this is often the case on
the Kishiu ware. The third colour of the triad, the yellow, is quite
subordinate; there were evidently great difficulties in producing a fine
tint under the conditions of the _demi grand feu_. In like manner in the
early Ming ware, that with the ribbed cloisons, the yellow was only used
sparingly for the petals of a flower or for a chain of pearls. It should
be noted that this ware of Kang-he differs from its Ming predecessor in
the absence of the dark blue glaze.

FAMILLE VERTE.–In the first triad, that of the _demi grand feu_, the
turquoise blue, as we have seen, is the predominant colour. Its place is
taken in the triad of the muffle-stove by the green, which in many
shades of intensity, but with a prevailing leafy hue, has come to be
especially associated with the enamelled wares of this reign.[57]

[Illustration: _PLATE IX._ CHINESE]

It would be possible to make many subdivisions of this class–the
well-known _famille verte_. In the majority of cases the ground is
covered by a wash of one of the colours, so as to resemble a painted
glaze. It will, however, always be found on close examination that the
wash is _superimposed_ on the true colourless glaze, which may generally
be seen at the mouth and foot. A green of greater or lesser strength,
sometimes quite a thin wash, is the commonest colour for this ground; at
other times it is of a pale straw colour, or, more rarely, a purple of a
poor uncertain hue.[58]

It will be observed that in the muffle-stove the fine aubergine purple
that we noted in the class last described is rarely to be obtained from
manganese. In all cases the white ground is only left sparingly as a
reserve for the petals of flowers and for the faces. In addition to
these colours–the green, the yellow, and the purple–which are for the
most part used as washes, a dark brown or black is largely employed for
outlining the details of the decoration, as well as for tempering the
colour of the background by covering it with scrolls and spirals.

When this decoration is applied to the small moulded pieces–the
_magots_, for instance, so admired by the French collectors of the
eighteenth century–we have a class of objects to which the descriptions
(in the Bushell manuscript and elsewhere) of the decorated ware of the
fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries would seem to apply. As we have
seen, it is at the least very doubtful whether these early pieces were
decorated _over the glaze_, but in a general view it cannot fail to
strike one that the Kang-he decoration, in which washes of colour[59]
play so important a part, belongs to an earlier school than that of the
Wan-li porcelain, with its designs and medallions scattered over a white
ground. These last patterns are, it would seem, derived from textile
fabrics, from the rich brocades of the time, both Chinese and, possibly,
foreign. In the _famille verte_ of Kang-he’s time, on the other hand, we
may perhaps see a return, in general effect at least, to the _san-tsai_
and _wu-tsai_ painted glazes of earlier Ming time.

When in place of the wash of green (or may be of yellow) the background
is formed by a black enamel, we still feel the prevailing influence of
the green in the decoration, so that these black-ground vases are
rightly included in the _famille verte_. The black background itself is
often of a greenish quality, and in the designs the camellia-leaf green
is predominant; yellow and purple are but sparingly introduced, but the
effect is heightened by the white reserves (PL. X.). In many cases a
wash of green appears to have been carried over the black ground. This
green enamel may be often seen overlapping, as it were, on the foot of a

It would be difficult to find in the whole range of Chinese porcelain
anything more superbly decorative

[Illustration: _PLATE X_ CHINESE]

than some of these large black-grounded vases in the Salting collection.
We would call attention to one example on which the thin skin-like glaze
of the dull ground and the somewhat archaic drawing of the great dragon
that curls round the side suggest a date earlier than that of its
companions (PL. XI.). And yet these fine vases are wanting in two
elements which we are accustomed to regard as essential to the best
porcelain: they neither display to any extent the natural white colour
of the paste,[60] nor is the outline dependent on the motion of the clay
under the potter’s hand. Nearly all these vases, as indeed most of the
large vessels of this time, are built up from segments made in moulds.

What rich effects of colour are here obtained with a palette so
restricted! Perhaps not a little of the beauty of this decoration is due
to this very restriction. It will be noticed that we have in the more
characteristic examples a total absence of all shades both of red and of

In the other not less important division of the enamel decoration of
this time these last two colours are added, and we come again to a
pentad of colours–not, however, quite the same as the _wu-tsai_ of
Wan-li times. We are still under the influence of the _famille verte_:
the leafy green in two or more shades remains the predominant colour,
the opaque red is used more sparingly than in the later Ming enamelled
ware, and above all the cobalt blue is now used _as an enamel colour
over the glaze_. This latter use points to an important advance in
technique, and it affords an easy means of distinguishing the wares of
the two periods. The new method of employing the blue is, however, often
only to be recognised by close examination in a favourable light. What
at once distinguishes the newer ware is rather the displacement of the
opaque red of the Ming porcelain by the characteristic green of the
Kang-he time as the _dominant_ colour. When this full complement of five
colours is used, the general scheme of the design, however, follows more
on the lines of the Wan-li ware; we find sprays of flowers or figure
subjects relieved upon the white ground. But the drawing of the newer
ware is somewhat more realistic, and there is generally a greater
finish. In rare cases the five colours are combined with the black
ground, as may be seen on two large vases in the British Museum, but the
effect is not so happy as that obtained with a simpler range of colours.

There is another position in which these five enamel colours may be
found together–in the decoration of the white reserves left between
grounds of _bleu poudré_ and _fond laque_. This was a form of decoration
much admired in Europe, and one of the earliest imitated. This _fond
laque_ ware of various shades, with reserved panels decorated with
flowers or figures, has retained among dealers the designation of
Batavian porcelain, a name which, like our old terms Gombroon and East
Indian, throws light on the route by which it reached Europe. The deep
blue vases covered with elaborate designs in gold were also exported
before the end of the seventeenth century; of these large specimens have
been sometimes found in India. There is a tall vase of this ware in the
Indian Museum at South Kensington–the gilding, as is often the case,
has almost entirely disappeared.

In the historical development of our subject, which we are now following
with greater or less strictness, we are only concerned with important
developments and fresh types as they from time to time arise. We have
therefore little to say for the present of the blue and white and of the
wares with monochrome glazes of which we

[Illustration: Plate XI.

_Chinese. Black ground._]

have so many superb specimens dating from the reign of Kang-he. We must,
however, mention in passing the brilliant _sang de bœuf_ vases
especially associated with the early years of this emperor. As in the
case of the ‘transmutation’ or _flambé_ glazes, the deep red colour of
this ware is produced by the action of a reducing flame upon a silicate
of copper. It is known in China as Lang yao, and there has been some
misconception as to the origin of the term. If, as the best authorities
tell us, we are to derive the name from Lang Ting-tso, the famous
viceroy of the Two Kiangs (the provinces of Kiangsi and Kiangnan) at the
time of the accession of Kang-he, the earliest form of this Lang yao
must be associated with a period (say about the years 1654-1668) which
is otherwise quite sterile in the annals of Chinese porcelain.

YUNG-CHENG (1722-1735).–When in 1722, after a reign of more than sixty
years, Kang-he,[61] perhaps the greatest of all the emperors of China,
died, we find a note of alarm sounded by the Jesuit fathers. Unlike his
father, Yung-cheng the new emperor was regarded as a supporter of the
most conservative traditions, and no friend of the Christian
missionaries. What, however, is important to us is the fact that as
crown-prince he was known not only as a patron of the works at
King-te-chen, but as himself an amateur potter of distinction. The Père
D’Entrecolles, writing before Yung-cheng’s accession to the throne,
tells us that it was his habit to send down from Pekin examples of
ancient wares to be copied at the imperial factory. This influence,
exercised in a conservative direction, is reflected in the porcelain
produced during his reign.

This is indeed a critical point in the history of Chinese porcelain. We
are reminded of some similar periods in the development of our Western
arts, when it begins to become evident that a command of material and a
technical finish have been attained at the expense of all spontaneity
and freshness of expression. Some such tendency was accompanied at this
time in China by a careful and deliberate imitation of ancient forms and
glazes. Under Nien Hsi-yao, the new superintendent at King-te-chen, some
advance was certainly made–we shall speak of the _Nien yao_ and the new
colours that distinguished it directly. We must not overlook, however,
the influence of the foreign demand which more and more made itself
felt, an influence opposed to the conservative and classical tastes of
the emperor.

But when we run through the long list, under fifty-seven headings, of
the various wares copied at King-te-chen at this time,[62] we see how
strong this classical influence was. In fact, this catalogue is one of
our best sources of information for the ancient, and especially for the
Sung, wares. The chief concern of the compiler was with the glazes, for
no attempt seems to have been made to copy the thick and rough pastes of
the early days.[63] We can infer from some of the heads of the list that
most of the highly perfected glazes of the day, ranging through every
shade of colour, were considered to be but modifications of the old
simple glazes of Sung times. This was an essentially Chinese way of
looking at the matter, and by this indirect path it was possible to
reach the most novel effects. Among the later headings of Nien’s list
(it was to some extent chronologically arranged) we find mention of
copies of Japanese wares, and frequent reference is made to colours and
decorations of European origin. We shall have to make more than one
reference to this important catalogue in a later chapter.

It was under the _régime_ of Nien Hsi-yao that this list was drawn up.
He was the second of the great viceroys whose names are associated with
the emperors Kang-he, Yung-cheng, and Kien-lung respectively. He
succeeded to Tsang Ying-hsuan, and was followed in the next reign by
Tang-ying. The wares made during the administration of these
superintendents are known in chronological order as _Tsang yao_, _Nien
yao_, and _Tang yao_. This Nien did not regard his post by any means as
a sinecure. He frequently visited the works, and required samples of the
imperial ware to be sent every two months to his official residence for
inspection (Bushell, p. 361).

The _Nien yao_, to the Chinese collector, is especially associated with
certain monochrome glazes–above all with the _clair de lune_–the _yueh
pai_ or ‘moon-white,’ and with a brilliant red glaze with stippled
surface, a near cousin to the _sang de bœuf_ and _flambé_ classes. There
is another ‘self-glaze’ ware which dates from this time, of which the
mingled tints depend, as in the case of the _flambé_, upon the varying
degrees of oxidation of the copper in the glaze. This is the
‘peach-bloom,’ the ‘apple red and green’ of the Chinese. The charm of
this delicate ware is of another kind to that to be found in the
vigorous flashes of colour of the transmutation glazes.

We can trace at this time the gradual introduction of two new colours
that give so special a character to the wares of the next reign. I mean
the pink derived from gold and the lemon-yellow. These colours were used
sparingly and with great delicacy at first, but we come to associate
them at a later time with a period of decline and of bad taste.

KIEN-LUNG (1735-1795).–It was during the long reign of this emperor,
poet and patron of all the arts, that the new direction which we find
given to the porcelain made in the reign of his father, Yung-cheng,
became even more accentuated–on the one hand, the copying of old glazes
and the employment of archaic hieratic patterns for decoration, on the
other, the more and more frequent use of new colours and new designs of
non-Chinese origin. This latter tendency was fostered both by the
eclectic tastes of Kien-lung himself and also by the increasing
importance of the demand for foreign countries. Great care was given to
the paste–it was required to be of a snowy (or rather sometimes chalky)
whiteness, tending neither towards yellow nor towards blue, and so
carefully finished on the lathe that on the uniform glassy surface of
the finer specimens no signs were left of the movement of the potter’s
wheel;[64] for compared with the ware produced in Ming times, and even
during the reign of Kang-he, we now note the greater proportion of
pieces thrown on the wheel. At no time has the skill of the potter who
threw the clay, and of the workman who then pared and smoothed the
surface on the lathe, been brought to a greater perfection, and this
applies not only to the eggshell china, but to the large vases and
beakers, so perfect in their outline. The same perfection of technique
is found in the decoration, so that a blue and white vase of this period
can at once be recognised in spite of the pseudo-archaic decoration and
the Ming _nien hao_ inscribed on the base. When the new colours are
introduced the date is, of course, approximately fixed, and we may
probably associate with the beginning of this reign (or perhaps a little
earlier; see note on p. 110) the first use of the _rouge d’or_ which has
given its name to a well-known class of porcelain–the _famille rose_.

A manageable red had long been a desideratum. There was no more
treacherous material than the basic copper oxide, whether painted under
or mixed with the glaze. As an over-glaze source of red this pigment was
of course unavailable, while the opaque brick-like tints obtained from
iron, though in keeping with the rougher, picturesque decoration of
early times, did not harmonise well with the delicate style of painting
now in fashion,[65] so that it is not surprising that the beautiful pink
tint obtained from gold carried all before it. The gold was probably
incorporated with the enamel flux in the form of purple of Cassius,
which is readily prepared by dissolving gold in a mixture of nitric acid
and sal-ammoniac and adding some fragments of tin. The colour had been
known for some time in Europe–we can perhaps even trace this pink tint
on enamelled Arab glass of the fourteenth century (see p. 89).[66] A
very small quantity of this material goes a long way, especially when
used to give a gradated tint to a white opaque enamel, as on the petal
of a flower. As a colour it is singularly harmonious, and in a period of
decline helped to ‘keep together’ the motley array of enamels used along
with it.

There is nothing more popular in the work of this time than the little
egg-shell plates, decorated with flowers and birds, for which such high
prices are given by collectors. The original type, for both ware and
decoration, is probably in this case to be found in the ‘chicken-cups’
of Cheng-hua’s reign.

On the plates of this ware the borders are filled with elaborate and
minutely finished diapers and scrolls, evidently taken from silk
brocades; indeed, the gold threads of the woof are sometimes directly
imitated; the centre is occupied by a picture, either a flower piece or
a _genre_ figure scene (PL. XII.). We may connect these designs with the
works of the naturalistic colour school of the time, many of the finest
of which have been preserved by Japanese collectors. A very frequent
subject is a rocky bank from which grow peonies, narcissi, or other
flowers, and under which two or more chickens or sometimes quails are
grouped. The petals of the flowers are rendered by a white opaque enamel
in high relief, often with a flush of pink, imitating the _tour de
force_ by which the painters of the time, by a single stroke of the
brush, produced a full gradation of colour. Indeed, the same artists
doubtless painted both on silk, on paper, and on porcelain. We may
compare their work to that of the fan-painters and miniaturists who were
employed to decorate the panels of Sèvres porcelain, at this very time,
with pastoral scenes and flower pieces. The Chinese enamellers rarely
signed their work; but there is a plate in the British Museum with the
name of a Canton artist. This gives a hint as to where most of the work
was done. But the most remarkable instance of signed work of this period
is found on a series of large plates in the Dresden Museum. On these a
Chinese artist, some time before the middle of the eighteenth century,
has painted a series of designs of birds and flowers, and in one
instance at least a graceful female figure. On the field, in each case,
we find a seal character (accompanied either by a smaller mark contained
in a circle, or by an artemisia leaf) which indicates the painter’s
name. With true artistic feeling he has succeeded in filling the surface
of the plate with a graceful decoration, and at the same time he gives
us a series of delightful pictures, employing the full range of the
enamel colours at his command. And in thus combining a decorative design
with an accurate

[Illustration: _PLATE XII_ CHINESE]

rendering of natural objects, the Chinese artist has succeeded in doing
what has never been accomplished by any European painter on porcelain.

In decoration of this kind, however, only the very best work pleases; in
anything below this we get at once to what is vulgar and trite; and the
larger palette now at the painter’s command only makes it easier for him
to produce the unpleasant combinations of colours so frequent in the
wares exported from China after the end of the eighteenth century. On
the other hand, the older painters, confined to their three or at most
five colours, seldom fail to produce an agreeable effect, however
roughly their colours are daubed on.

In the _genre_ scenes, as in the case of the flower pieces, a realistic
tendency is prominent. We have no longer the Taoist saints or the
hunting and battle pieces of earlier times, but delicately executed
interiors with graceful figures of girls arranging flowers or painting
fans, or again, landscapes with men travelling by road or by river.
There is a refinement of colour and a charm of drawing and composition
in the better specimens of this somewhat effeminate school that appeals
to every one. It is difficult for us to find any marked European
influence in the designs of this time, and yet these pictures are
classed by the Chinese as European in style; and it is not quite clear
whether this refers only to the enamel colours employed or to the manner
of drawing as well. Most of the work of this kind was doubtless made for
the European market and painted at Canton. But is this the case with the
finest examples? Kien-lung himself was, it would seem, no despiser of
this carefully decorated ware. A poem of his composition, signed with
the vermilion seal, is often found on this egg-shell porcelain.

On some of the most highly finished of the little cups and plates we
find an elaborate scroll decoration in gold and sometimes in silver; and
in these designs we may perhaps trace the influence of the baroque
style in vogue at this time in Europe.

Nien resigned his post when his master in the year 1735 had ‘flown up to
heaven like a dragon,’ and the new emperor, Kien-lung, appointed in his
place Tang-ying, who had long served under him. The new director was no
less an enthusiast than his predecessor. He tells us in his memoirs–for
he was a man of literary taste like his master, Kien-lung–that he
served his apprenticeship with the workmen, sharing his meals and his
sleeping-room with them, following in this the proverb which says ‘the
farmer may learn something from his bondman, and the weaver from the
handmaid who holds the thread for her mistress.’

We hear that new tints of turquoise (_fei-tsui_) and of rose-red
(_mei-kwei_) were introduced by him, and we may perhaps identify these
colours with certain shades of pink and turquoise blue that became
prevalent about this time. In both these cases the pigment is mixed with
some amount of arsenic or tin so that the enamel is nearly opaque, and
this enamel is now spread over the ground, taking the place of the glaze
which lies beneath. The effect, though apparently admired by some
collectors, is heavy and unpleasant. The pink, which we may consider as
a Chinese equivalent of the _rose Pompadour_ (it is uncertain whether
the French or the Chinese were the first to use the _rouge d’or_
colours), is generally more or less opaque, with a granular surface; it
is often found covering a paste inscribed with fine scrolls.[67]

[Illustration: _PLATE XIII._ CHINESE]

In the case of the pale opaque blue (to which the name of turquoise may
be applied more aptly than to the sky-coloured transparent blues of the
_demi grand feu_), the surface of the enamel is sometimes painted with
an irregular net-work of black lines, as if in imitation of some kind of
marble. This turquoise enamel towards the end of Kien-lung’s reign was
often applied to the surface of large vases, and when in combination
with a lemon-yellow decoration the effect is even more unpleasant than
when used alone.

We have mentioned, when speaking of Yung-cheng’s reign, a valuable list
of the various kinds of porcelain made at that time at King-te-chen. We
must now refer to another document, quoted, like the list of Nien’s
time, in all the Chinese books dealing with the history of the imperial
porcelain works. The emperor Kien-lung, it would appear, when
overhauling certain manuscripts preserved in the palace, came upon a
series of twenty water-colour drawings illustrating the manufacture of
porcelain. He at once summoned Tang-ying, the famous superintendent at
King-te-chen, to Pekin, and, handing over the drawings, commanded him to
prepare a full description of all the processes illustrated in these
pictures. This was in 1743, shortly before Tang’s retirement. The
drawings themselves have never been made public; but we have in Tang’s
report what is, after the letters of the Jesuit father, our most
important source for the technical details of the manufacture of
porcelain in China. With these details we are not concerned just now,
but we will quote from Dr. Bushell’s translation a disquisition on
certain principles that should govern the forms and decoration of
porcelain. This is a kind of _obiter dictum_ of Tang-ying, _à propos_ of
the fashioning and painting of vases. In his flowery style he tells us
(I abbreviate in a few places): ‘In the decoration of porcelain correct
canons of art should be followed. The designs should be taken from the
patterns of old brocades and embroidery; the colours from a garden as
seen in spring-time from a pavilion. There is an abundance of specimens
of ware of the Sung dynasty at hand to be copied; the elements of nature
supply an inexhaustible fund of materials for new combinations of
supernatural beauty. Natural objects are modelled to be fashioned in
moulds and painted in appropriate colours. _The materials of the
potter’s art are derived from forests and streams, and ornamental themes
are supplied by the same natural sources._‘[68] It is a strange fancy
which connects the decoration of a vase with the source of the materials
with which it is made. Elsewhere, speaking of the painting of the blue
and white ware, Tang-ying says: ‘For painting of flowers and of birds,
fishes and water-plants, and living objects generally, the study of
nature is the first requisite. In the imitation of Ming porcelain and of
ancient pieces, the sight of many specimens brings skill.’ We see in
this a kind of hesitation, a balancing between two influences–the
naturalistic and the traditional–which is characteristic of the period.

We may call attention, by the way, to the important place that is given
in this report to the process of moulding in the fashioning of a vase,
especially as _supplementary_ to the throwing on the wheel, and above
all, to the care required in the turning and polishing on the jigger or
lathe to ensure accuracy of outline in the finished piece.

The last picture described by Tang-ying illustrates the worshipping of
the local god and the offering of sacrifice. And we are told the story
of how, when the great dragon-bowls failed time after time, and when, in
consequence, the workmen were harassed by the eunuchs sent down by the
Ming emperor, Tung the potter leaped into the furnace; and how, after
this sacrifice, when the kilns were opened, the bowls were at last found
perfect in shape and brilliant in colour. So Tung was worshipped as the
potter’s god; and, indeed, Tang-ying tells us, as a voucher for the
truth of his story, that in his time one of these very dragon
fish-bowls, ‘compounded of the blood and bones of the deity,’ still
stood in the courtyard of the temple, a witness to the sacrifice
(Bushell, chapter xv).

Tang-ying resigned his post in 1746; his influence was therefore only
felt during the first years of Kien-lung’s long reign. His is the last
name that can be personally connected with any Chinese ware, unless it
be that of the emperor his master.

Kien-lung was a poet, and a very productive one–his complete works were
published in an edition of 360 volumes, containing nearly 34,000
separate compositions. These are generally occasional pieces suggested
by the aspects of nature. Such verses are not unfrequently found on the
egg-shell porcelain of his time, signed, too, with the vermilion pencil.
There is quite a long poem of his on a dish of thin ware now in the
Musée Guimet in Paris.

The emperor interested himself in a new kind of opaque glass made in
Pekin by a skilful artist, one Hu, and he sent specimens of this ware to
King-te-chen to be imitated in the nobler material, as he deemed it.
This was effected by means of a very vitreous paste, and the little
snuff-bottles moulded in high relief in this material are much prized
both by Chinese and American collectors.

There was, indeed, at this time a rage for imitating other substances in
porcelain, which was doubtless fostered by the increased command of
technical processes and of new colours. A good deal of the porcelain
covered with black or sometimes brown lacquer,[69] inlaid with
mother-of-pearl, the _laque burgauté_ of the French, dates perhaps from
an earlier period. But the little snuff-bottles, imitating jade,
pudding-stone, agate, turquoise, as well as silver, gold, and bronze of
varied patinas, or again the rusted surface of iron–to say nothing of
wood, bamboo, and mother-of-pearl–may, with few exceptions, be
attributed to this time. We may compare such work to the contemporary
triumphs of the Japanese in lacquer.[70]

But by the middle of the century it is no longer the demand of the court
that gives the general tone to the productions of King-te-chen. The
taste for Oriental wares had spread among the middle classes in Europe.
The English were taking the place of the Dutch as the principal
exporters, and this change was reflected in a demand for a gaudy ware
crowded with a motley array of figures, the ‘mandarin china’ properly so
called. As to the extensive class of porcelain painted with
coats-of-arms and other European designs, a class well represented in
the British Museum, we will only mention that the greater part was
decorated at this time by a special school of artists at Canton, though
some pieces date from a somewhat earlier period.

KIA-KING (1795-1820), the son and successor of Kien-lung, was like his
father a poet, but a man of weak and dissolute character. The high
finish of the previous reign was, however, maintained, and the pieces
marked with this emperor’s name are sought after by Chinese collectors.

TAO-KWANG (1820-1850).–It is surprising that so much really good
porcelain was made at a time so troubled by foreign wars and internal
rebellion. In some of the blue and white ware of this and even the next
reign, we may sometimes see a return to the breadth and boldness of
treatment characteristic of earlier days. In the coral-red grounds of
this time, the intractable iron oxide appears to have been more
thoroughly incorporated with the glaze than at any previous period. It
is to this reign that we may assign the ‘Pekin’ or ‘Graviata’ bowls,
with reserved panels on the outside filled with flowers, landscapes,
etc., in many coloured enamels. The ground is often of a pinkish _rouge
d’or_, or in other instances of lemon yellow, blue or pale lavender. The
inside of the bowl has a decoration of blue and white.

HSIEN-FENG (1850-61).–As at the beginning of this emperors reign the
Taiping rebels broke into Kiang-si and burned down the town of
King-te-chen, this period is of necessity a blank in the history of

TUNG-CHI (1861-1874).–In the third year of this reign the rebels were
driven out from King-te-chen and the imperial works rebuilt. A large
order was at once sent from Pekin for porcelain of every description.
The details of this order, the latest of the lists of this kind to be
found in the _Annals of Kiang-si_, are only given in the edition of that
work published since the date of Julien’s translation. This list is
translated by Dr. Bushell, fifty-five headings in all, and we find in it
a curious instance of the survival of the old traditions. All the wares
mentioned in the older lists are now again requisitioned for the use of
the court.

The Empress-Dowager, who has held the reins during the minority both of
Tung-chi and of his successor, the present emperor, is reputed to be
something of a connoisseur,[71] and to take an interest in the imperial
manufactory. Some of the better class wares from the palace and from the
temples at Pekin have quite lately found their way to England, and
specimens may be seen on loan at South Kensington. I notice especially a
set of five vessels in deep blue from the Temple of Heaven. The
execution appears to be careful, but the forms are ugly and the blue of
an unpleasant tint. In vessels of this kind, however, both shape and
colour may be governed by tradition. Mr. Hippisley, who has lived long
in China, says that for some years past the _famille verte_ wares of
Kang-he’s time, especially the vases with black ground and prunus
flowers, have been fairly well reproduced at King-te-chen, as have,
later still, the so-called ‘hawthorn ginger-jars.’ But in China, as in
France, it is with the difficulties of the copper glazes, the _flambé_
and the _sang de bœuf_, that the majority of our contemporary ceramic
artists are striving.