We have now followed the steps by which the dependants and the
neighbours of the ‘Middle Kingdom’ to the North, the East and the South,
acquired the essentially Chinese art of the manufacture of porcelain.
The next stage in our history brings us at one step to Europe. Before
making this stride of more than a thousand leagues from Japan to Central
Germany, it will be convenient to bring together some of the scattered
references to the porcelain of China that have been laboriously
disinterred from the works of the Arab and Christian writers of the
Middle Ages, and to compare these statements with the scant account of
the trade with Western lands to be found in the Chinese books of that
time. We shall then trace rapidly the history of the stages by which the
European nations became better acquainted with the porcelain of the Far
East so as finally to master the secret of the manufacture.

For the earlier period we are dependent almost entirely upon Arab and
Chinese sources. The love of the marvellous, the spirit of Sindbad the
Sailor, has to be discounted in the first, and we have seen what
reservations we have to make in accepting the statements of the latter.

There is no doubt that it is in the extraordinary development of trade
that followed the wave of Arab conquest in the seventh century that we
must find the first possibilities of direct communication with the Far
East. The great advance made by China in the early and palmy days of the
Tang dynasty (618-907) no doubt opened the way for this intercourse. At
that time China was in possession of a civilisation in many respects as
advanced as that to be found either at Constantinople or at Bagdad.

As early as the year 700 of our era we find mention of a foreign
settlement at Canton, so that that town can claim a longer record than
any other Chinese port. But it was rather at Khanfu, as the Arabs called
Hangchow (or rather its port), the Kinsai of Marco Polo, that, in the
time of the next dynasty, the Sung (960-1279), the chief trade was
carried on. Thus we find that Edrisi, who wrote a work on geography
(_c._ 1153) for Roger, the Norman king of Sicily, is eloquent upon the
riches of this port of Khanfu and the neighbouring town Susak (perhaps
Suchow), ‘where they make an unequalled kind of porcelain called
_ghazar_ by the Chinese.’

At this time, though many Arab merchants were settled at the ports of
Canton, Zaitun, and Kinsai, the bulk of the commerce, it would seem, was
carried on in the larger and stronger junks of the Chinese, and the best
account that we have of the intercourse of China with foreign countries
is to be found in the report on external trade, written by Chao Ju-kua,
early in the thirteenth century.[127] This Chao was ‘inspector of
foreign shipping’ at Chüan-chou Fu, a town on the coast of Fukien, which
may perhaps be identified with the Zaitun of Marco Polo. In any case it
was, at that time, the principal starting-point for foreign commerce. We
have in his report a curious account of the trade with Bruni, on the
north-west coast of Borneo, an island with which the Chinese had
already had some intercourse for several centuries, and ‘green
porcelain’ is mentioned by him in the list of the merchandise there

We need not dwell here on the well-known passion of the Dyaks of Borneo
for celadon porcelain, and the big prices that they are prepared to give
for fine old pieces (_Cf._ Bock, _The Head Hunters of Borneo_, p. 197
_seq._). Of the specimens of celadon and other wares brought from this
island we shall speak shortly. Modern travellers tell us that the larger
jars, ‘decorated with lizards and serpents’ (probably the early
smooth-skinned dragon of the Chinese), are preserved as heirlooms.
Besides their medicinal value they are a complete protection from evil
spirits for the house in which they are stored. From later Chinese
writers (of the sixteenth century) we learn that these large jars were
used in Borneo in place of coffins, and it is a significant fact that a
similar mode of burial is still in use in Fukien, the district from
which these vessels were exported, but not elsewhere in China.

To return to our Sung inspector of trade, as quoted by Dr. Hirth, Chao
tells us that at the ports of Cambodja, of Annam, and of Java, the
Chinese bartered both green and white porcelain against pepper and other
local products. But at that time the great emporium for the Western
trade was the port known to the Arabs as Sarbaya, the modern Palembang
in the island of Sumatra. Here, or at Lambri, in the same island, the
junks laid up for the winter, and in the spring the Chinese goods were
carried further west to Quilon, on the Malabar coast of the Deccan, this
time probably in Arab bottoms. The porcelain and the other Chinese
exports were now distributed to the various lands with which the Arabs
traded at that time. Chao Ju-kua, in this connection, mentions Guzerate,
and an island that most probably can be identified with Zanzibar. At
any rate, at this last spot fragments of celadon porcelain have been
discovered in recent days in association with Chinese ‘cash’ of the
tenth and eleventh centuries.

There are scattered notices of this Sinico-Arab trade in the works of
Arab geographers and travellers, from Edrisi to Ibn Batuta. The last
writer, indeed, states that Chinese porcelain has found its way as far
west as Morocco. It was a happy idea of the Director of the
Ethnographical Museum, in the Zwinger at Dresden, to collect from every
available quarter specimens of Chinese porcelain with the object of
illustrating the wide distribution of the ware in early days, apart from
and mostly previous to that brought about by European agencies. In this
collection the heavy celadon or ‘martabani’ occupies, as we might
expect, a prominent place, but the later enamelled wares, including even
some special types that may be included under the _famille rose_ of the
eighteenth century, have been found both in Cairo and in Siam. Here we
see large, heavy celadon plates, with thick glaze of pea-soup colour,
from the Celebes, from Mindanoa and Luzon in the Philippine group, from
Ceram and from other islands of the further Indies. On some of these
plates the glaze covers the whole foot, and the unglazed ring, of deep
red colour, on the upper surface, points to a primitive method of
support in the kiln similar to that formerly in use in Siam. Other
celadon plates (there are some huge ones, nearly a yard in diameter, in
the collection), differing little from those found in these southern
islands, came on the one hand from Cairo, and on the other from Korea
and from Japan. From Korea there are also specimens of a curious
crackle-ware with brownish glaze and a rough decoration in blue, and
from Java a figure of Kwan-yin of a native type, covered with a pale,
almost white, celadon glaze. In the same collection we find plates
roughly decorated with red and green enamels, a style of decoration
which may perhaps be traced back to the earlier enamels of Ming times.
Examples of this type of ware–some at least appear to be of
porcelain–have been found both in the Philippines and in Ceylon. To
come down to more recent times, pieces decorated with large
peony-flowers, enamelled with an opaque white tinted by the _rouge
d’or_, on a bright green ground of leaves, come from the Celebes, from
Siam, and especially from Cairo.[128]

At Gotha, in the public museum, is a collection of Chinese porcelain
brought together by the late Duke of Edinburgh. It is remarkable for the
number of fine pieces of early celadon that it contains. As the unique
collection of Lung-chuan, of Ko yao and of other Sung wares formed by
Dr. Hirth, is now comprised in it, this is probably the most important
assemblage of early Chinese porcelain in Europe. These two German
collections, in the Zwinger at Dresden and at Gotha, complement and
illustrate each other. But we have in England, scattered through our
different museums and private collections, the materials for a series of
at least equal interest–I mean as a commentary on the history of the
spread of Chinese porcelain over the world, a subject to which we must
now return.

In the early days of the Ming dynasty the commercial expeditions of the
Chinese took on a more aggressive character. In the time of Yung-lo
(1402-25) the eunuch Chêng-ho sailed with a fleet as far as Ceylon, and
exacted homage, so the Chinese records say, from the king of that
island. In the next reign, that of Hsuan-te (1425-35), the same admiral
conducted a more peaceful expedition to Hormus, at the entrance of the
Persian Gulf, and in company with merchantmen from India, traded with
the ports of the Red Sea, from Aden as far up as Jeddah. Both in Ceylon
and at Jeddah (Tien-fong is perhaps rather Mecca itself) we find mention
of green porcelain among the goods imported, and at this last port the
Indian and Chinese merchants established their factories at the very
centre of the Mohammedan world. (I follow the extracts from the Ming
Annals given by Dr. Hirth.)

Still more important was the trade with Hormus and other ports of the
Persian Gulf. We hear incidentally, at a later time, of a large fleet of
Chinese junks at anchor in these waters. To us the Chinese trade with
Persia is of special interest, for when, after a brief interval of
Portuguese rule, Hormus fell into our hands, it was in a measure through
the medium of the Persian ports, and of similar depôts and factories on
the Indian coast (as, for instance, Surat) that we in England obtained
our earliest specimens of Chinese porcelain.

And now we must take up another thread of our inquiry and return to the
China of the thirteenth century, the China of Kublai Khan, the greatest
of the Mongol rulers, as described in the book of the Venetian traveller
Marco Polo. Here, in what is for us a classical passage, we find the
first known instance of the use of the word porcelain. Marco Polo has
been describing the wonders and riches of Zaitun, and he proceeds in his
inconsequent way–we will quote first from the old French text, probably
the earliest–‘Et sachiez que pres de ceste cité de Çayton a une autre
cité qui a nom Tiunguy, là où l’en fait moult d’escuelles et de
pourcelainnes qui sont moult belles. Et en nul autre port on n’en fait,
fors que en cestuy; et en y a l’en moult bon marchie’ (Pauthier, _Marco
Polo_, chapter clvi.).

Translating from the later and more expanded Italian text, Colonel Yule
renders the corresponding passage as follows: ‘Let me tell you that
there is in this province a town called Tyunju, where they make vessels
of porcelain of all sizes, the finest that can be imagined. They make it
nowhere but in this city, and thence it is exported all over the world.
Here it is abundant and very cheap, insomuch that for a Venice groat you
can buy three dishes so fine that you could not imagine better.’ In the
still later version of Ramusio, printed at Venice in 1579, we find one
of the first mentions of the old fable that the porcelain earth was
allowed to weather for two generations before being used. (See Yule,
_Marco Polo_, vol. i. p. cxxii. and vol. ii. pp. 186 and 190.)

Confining ourselves to the old French version, the point to bear in mind
is the use of the word ‘pourcelainnes’ in this sense as one familiar to
the reader and requiring no explanation. And yet in the two other
passages of Marco Polo’s book, where the word is found, it is used, and
here too without further explanation, for the Cowry shells (_Cypræa_)
that then, as now, took the place of money in certain markets of the
East. There can be little doubt that the ware of which Marco Polo spoke
was some kind of celadon, and Dr. Hirth’s identification of Tingui with
Lung-chuan is perhaps more plausible than the rival claims of Tekkwa and

Ibn Batuta, the Arab traveller, who wrote nearly fifty years later, says
‘porcelain is made nowhere in China except in the cities of Zaitun and
Sinkalon (Canton).’ In this statement he is of course quite wide of the
mark. Like Marco Polo, however, he was struck by the cheapness of the
ware, and he mentions that it was exported as far as Maghreb (Morocco).

These ‘moult belles pourcelainnes,’ Marco Polo tells us, were to be
found all over the world. He was probably speaking, as we have said, of
a celadon ware, though it is possible that he may have seen the pure
white translucent porcelain of Tingchou. Our first distinct notice of
porcelain out of China is indeed of earlier date. In an Arab manuscript
in the _Bibliothèque Nationale_, treating of the life and exploits of
Saladin, we are told that in the year 1171 that great Emir forwarded
from Cairo to his feudal lord Nureddin, Sultan of Damascus, a present of
forty pieces of Chinese porcelain, doubtless found among the treasures
of the recently conquered Fatimite caliphs of Egypt.[129] We have every
reason to believe that this store of porcelain, found in the palace of
the heretic caliphs of ‘Babylon,’ can have consisted of nothing else but
the much prized ‘martabani,’ of which such wonderful stories are told by
the Arab and Persian writers.

The high estimation in which this ware was held in Persia at a later
date is well brought out in the following quotation from Chardin, who
was in Persia in 1672: ‘Everything in the king’s palace is of massive
gold or porcelain. There is a kind of green porcelain so precious that
one dish alone is worth 500 crowns. They say that this porcelain detects
poison by changing colour, but that is a fable.[130] Its price arises
from its beauty and the delicacy of its materials, which render it
transparent, though above two crowns in thickness.’ Again, in one of the
tales of the _Arabian Nights_, we hear of six old slaves who bring in a
salad in a huge basin of ‘martabani’ ware.

Fragments of porcelain, the fine white paste covered with a greyish
green glaze, have been found in the rubbish-heaps both of Fostât or Old
Cairo and of Rha (the Rhages of the book of Tobit), near Teheran, and as
both these towns were abandoned at least as early as the thirteenth
century, a corresponding age has been claimed for the pot-sherds found
among the ruins.[131] We now know that a true celadon porcelain was made
in Siam, and this ware, there is little doubt, was shipped from the port
of Martabani.[132] But in spite of this fact, and of the evidence of the
name by which the ware was known, by far the larger part of the
porcelain used by the Arabs was probably a true Lung-chuan ware exported
from the ports of the Chinese coast, Kinsai, Zaitun, and Canton.

The Memlook Sultans of Egypt encouraged commerce with the East. Makrisi
tells us that Kelaun received an embassy from Ceylon. During the
fourteenth century and later, the goods transhipped at Aden were carried
to the ports on the west coast of the Red Sea and then brought overland
to Assuan or to Koos, a town lower down the Nile, near to Koptos. Many
of the large dishes now to be seen in the museums of France and Germany
may have reached the West by this route, for among the presents that
the ‘Soldan’ of Egypt sent to Lorenzo de’ Medici in 1487, on the
occasion of an embassy (in addition to some sheep with long ears and
tails as big as their bodies), we find mention of ‘vasi grandi
porcellana mai più veduti simili ne meglio lavorati’ (Marryat, p. 240,
quoting a letter from Bibbiena to Clarice de’ Medici). Before this, in
1447, Charles VII. of France is said to have received from the same
source ‘trois escuelles de pourcelaine de Sinant,’ besides ‘_platz,
tongues verdes_’ (whatever they may be), and other vessels of the same
material. Again, in 1487 porcelain is mentioned in the maritime laws of
Barcelona among the exports from Egypt. In only one of these notices,
however, is the Chinese origin of the porcelain expressly stated, so
that in the other cases there remains a shadow of a doubt as to what
kind of ware is in question. For we must remember that the word
porcelain was at that time sometimes applied to Saracenic fayence.
Indeed in the old French inventories quoted by the Marquis de Laborde,
various kinds of shell-ware, such as frames inlaid with mother-of-pearl,
are referred to as porcelain.

It is doubtful whether we can point to a single specimen of porcelain in
our European collections whose history can be traced back as far as the
year 1500, nor can any exception be made to this statement in favour of
anything to be found in the Treasury of St. Mark at Venice. With the
exception of one small doubtful piece, I have been unable to discover
any specimen of porcelain in that collection. As for the tradition
concerning the little plate at Dresden inlaid with garnets cut into
facettes–that it was brought back from the East by a crusader–I am
afraid that this must go the way of so many similar stories. I have had
an opportunity of examining this often-quoted example of early Chinese
porcelain, as well as a cup similarly inlaid in the same collection,
and I quite agree with Dr. Zimmermann, the Curator of the Museum, that
the setting can hardly be earlier than the sixteenth century, and that
there is nothing in the ware itself, a plain white Ting porcelain, to
point to a great age.

There remains, then, the bowl of pale sea-green celadon, mounted in
silver gilt, preserved at New College, Oxford. This is known as the cup
of Archbishop Warham (1504-32): it is said to have been presented to the
college by that prelate, and the early date is confirmed by the style of
the mounting. It is at least a curious coincidence that this celadon
cup, the _doyen_, it would seem, of all the Chinese porcelain in Europe,
should prove to be a specimen of the ware first exported from

M. de Laborde, in his glossary, quotes from the inventory of the goods
of Margaret of Austria, the Regent of the Low Countries during the
minority of her nephew, the future Emperor Charles V., the following
items among others: Un beau grand pot de pourcelaine bleue à deux
agneaux d’argent. Deux autres esguières d’une sorte de porcelayne bleue.
Ung beau gobelet de porcelayne blanche, à couvercle, painct à l’entour
de personnaiges d’hommes et femmes.’

An additional interest is given to this inventory of the possessions of
the Regent Margaret when we remember that it was of her brother that the
following story is told:–In the spring of 1506 Philip started from the
Netherlands for Spain, along with his wife Joanna, to claim for the
latter the crown of Castile, vacant by the death of the great Queen
Isabella. Driven by a storm into Weymouth Harbour, the pair were
entertained by Sir Thomas Trenchard, the High Sheriff of the county, at
his house not far from Dorchester. On leaving, Philip gave to his host
some bowls of Oriental porcelain. Two of these bowls of blue and white
ware remain in the possession of the representatives of the Trenchard
family. One of them is set in a silver gilt mounting of about 1550, with
a London hall-mark on the inside. On the outside of the bowl is a bold
floral decoration, and inside some quaint archaic fish, similar to those
on the Cheng-te bowl in the Salting collection. They have been lately
described by Mr. Winthrop in Gulland’s _Oriental China_, vol. ii.

We have now come to a time when a new channel was opened by which the
porcelain and other produce of the Far East could reach Europe. In the
year 1517 Fernando Perez D’Andrada sailed from Malacca to the roads of
Canton, and the Portuguese not long after established some kind of
understanding with the Chinese, which permitted them to trade at that
port and at Ningpo. This arrangement, however, lasted but for a short
time. Some aggressive proceedings on the part of a new admiral sent out
from Portugal aroused the latent hostility of the Ming Government, and
the newcomers were before long confined to that ambiguous position at
Macao that they occupy to the present day. There does not seem to be any
direct evidence that porcelain formed part of the merchandise that they
at that time–I mean during the sixteenth century–sent back to Europe;
but after the end of the century, when Portugal and her colonies were
for a time absorbed in the vast empire ruled by Philip II. of Spain, a
considerable amount of the Oriental ware reached the Peninsula by way of
‘the Indies.’ Specimens of this old porcelain, chiefly of the plain
white that the Spanish have always preferred, may still be found, it is
said, in some of the royal palaces.

The Portuguese in some measure took the place of the Arabs, whose
shipping they had driven out from the Indian seas, and it was now in
their ships that the Chinese porcelain was carried to the markets of
India and Persia. But by the end of the sixteenth century the
Portuguese, now sailing under the Spanish flag, began to feel the
rivalry of a new power that was destined before long to monopolise
nearly the whole trade of the Far East. In 1604, three ships bearing an
ambassador and his suite arrived at Canton. The Chinese were alarmed at
the singular aspect of these new people, ‘with blue eyes, red hair, and
feet one cubit and two-tenths long.’ The Dutch, however–for such these
newcomers were–effected little by this embassy, and it is indeed
difficult to understand, when we read of the troubled relations of
foreign nations with the fast sinking Ming rulers in those stormy days,
in what manner and by what route the porcelain that was now reaching the
markets of India, Persia, and somewhat later, of Europe, in such large
quantities, found its way out from China. After the establishment of the
new Manchu dynasty in 1644, the three southern provinces, including the
ports of the Canton river and of the Fukien coast, long remained in the
hands of the native Chinese admiral or pirate, so well known to
Europeans as Coxinga, and it was not till some years after the accession
of Kang-he that the imperial authority was established in these parts,
and the trade road re-opened with the newly rebuilt kilns of

The English at that time had not much direct intercourse with China.
What little reached us from that country seems to have been obtained
rather by piracy than by trade. In the days of Elizabeth, when a Spanish
merchantman or carrack was captured, next to the bullion there was
nothing that was more eagerly sought for than porcelain, both that which
might form part of the cargo and any pieces in use at the officers’
table. As late as the year 1637, it was through the medium of the
Portuguese that the bulk of the English trade with China was carried on.
Meantime, however, we had established ourselves in the Persian Gulf, and
in the year 1623 we assisted Shah Abbas in driving the Portuguese out of
Hormus. We had at that time comparatively close relations with Persia,
and there was more than one English adventurer in the service of the
great Shah. There is some reason to believe that it was by way of our
factories or depôts on the Persian Gulf (especially the new
establishment at Gombroon,[135] on the mainland, opposite the island of
Hormus or Ormuz), as well as by those on the coast of India, that the
porcelain of China and Japan first reached England in any quantity. In
these commercial relations we may no doubt find one of the causes of the
confusion that so long existed with us between the wares of Persia,
India, and China.

But Chinese porcelain, as well as Persian fayence, must have reached
England by another route–by way of Venice–and this at a somewhat
earlier date. To this connection of ‘china-ware’ with Venice there is
frequent reference in our Elizabethan literature. Florio in his _Italian
Dictionary_ (1598) interprets the word ‘china’ as ‘a Venus basin,’ and
‘china metal’ is explained by Minsheu in his _Spanish Dialogues_ (1599)
as ‘the fine dishes of earth painted such as are brought from Venice.’
Here the reference probably is to Italian or Persian fayence–in fact
the tendency seems rather to have been to use the word ‘china’ for these
latter wares and to reserve the term ‘purslane’ or ‘porcelaine’ for the
true porcelain of the Far East.

Indeed there is every likelihood that we may find the origin of our term
‘china,’ used vaguely for the better kinds of glazed ceramic wares,[136]
in the Persian word _chini_, which has long been employed for Chinese
porcelain and for the finer kinds of fayence, both in Persia and in
India. The point to bear in mind is that with our ancestors this word
had no direct connection with the Chinese empire, but rather with Venice
and with Persia. On the other hand, the special ware known as
‘purslane,’ as we have said, was by them connected especially with that
vague country known as ‘the East Indies.’

At the New Year, 1587-88, Elizabeth received from Burleigh a porringer
‘of white porselyn’ garnished with gold, and from Mr. Robert Cecil ‘a
cup of grene pursselyne.’ It was not until the beginning of the next
century, apparently, that porcelain, decorated with blue under the
glaze, was imported in any quantity. To this time we must assign the
four pieces of this ‘blue and white’ ware (one bearing the mark of
Wan-li) (PL. XXVIII.) long preserved at Burleigh House, the old home of
the senior branch of the Cecil family (see p. 85).

By the middle of the seventeenth century Oriental porcelain had already
become an important article of commerce. At that time by far the larger
quantity was imported by the Dutch, and was distributed by them over
France and Germany. There is, however, some reason to believe that the
Portuguese continued to import certain classes of ware, but it is
difficult to

[Illustration: _PLATE XXVIII._ CHINESE]

find any direct evidence of this commerce.[137] As for the English
trade, porcelain is mentioned among the goods imported by the East India
Company as early as 1631.

For the most part this porcelain exported from Canton or from Nagasaki
was not carried directly to Europe, but found its way first to various
intermediate _entrepôts_ of trade: in the case of the Dutch, to Batavia;
with us, to certain Indian ports, or perhaps to Gombroon. This was one
cause of the strange names by which the products of China and Japan were
known, and of the confusion between the wares of the two countries,
which has only been cleared up of late years. We hear of Batavian
porcelain, and of East Indian or _porcelaine des Indes_.[138] No doubt
this ambiguity of origin was encouraged by the rival traders, who were
not eager to make too public the source of their goods.

As to the composition of the ‘purslayne’ brought from the Indies, the
wildest stories were current. Whether it was even of the same nature as
other kinds of pottery was disputed. Even so well-informed a man as Sir
Thomas Browne had his doubts. ‘We are not thoroughly resolved,’ he says,
‘concerning porcellane or china dishes, that according to common belief
they are made of earth.’ The quaint story of the clay being preserved
for long ages before it was fit for use, we find for the first time
apparently in some of the late versions of Marco Polo’s travels. From
Marryat, who collected a wealth of quotations[139] referring to
porcelain from writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, we
take as an example the following (it is from a book written by Guido
Pancirolli, a learned jurisconsult and antiquary of Padua, who died in
1599):–‘In former ages, porcelains were never seen. Now they are a
certain mass composed of gypsum, bruised eggs, the shell of the marine
locust [perhaps the _Langusta_ or Mediterranean lobster], and other
substances; and this, being well tempered and thickened, is hidden
underground in a secret place, which the father points out to his
children, etc.’ He then goes on to speak of the transparency of this
ware, and of its property of breaking when any poisonous substance was
placed in it.

We must remember that by this time attempts had already been made in
Italy, both in Tuscany and probably still earlier in Venice, to imitate
the porcelain of China. These experiments were soon abandoned, but the
more practical Dutch, not long after this time, succeeded in making with
their enamelled earthenware an imitation of the finer Chinese blue and
white, closer to the original, as far as external aspect is concerned,
than anything that has been produced in Europe since that time in ware
of any description. The name of Albregt de Keizer (_circa_ 1661) it
would seem is to be associated with these excellent copies. There are
some brilliant specimens of this seventeenth century delft at South
Kensington, both in the Keramic Gallery and in the Salting collection.

Early in the reign of Charles II., the fashion of drinking tea and
chocolate became fashionable, if not general, in England. Coffee had
been introduced somewhat earlier–it came from Turkey by way of Venice.
Along with these new infusions came the demand for the little cups from
which they were to be drunk, and for the pots in which to brew them. The
form and fashion of these came to us not from China but from Venice,
from Constantinople, and perhaps ultimately from Persia. One
consequence of this was that the confusion between the wares of the East
and of the Far East became for the time even greater. In the
drinking-song quoted on page 243, we find ‘tea-cups and coffee’
associated with ‘the Turk and the Sophi,’ while not a word is said of

At the same time larger pieces, _garnitures de cheminée_, _pots
pourris_, and fish-bowls began to find a place in the decoration of a
nobleman’s house. Before the end of the century there came in a rage for
quaint monsters and figures of Chinese gods, at first chiefly in white
porcelain. Many such pieces may still be found on the mantels and in the
china-closets of our country houses, but unfortunately we have in few
cases any record of the date of acquisition or of the _provenance_ of
ware of this kind.

At Hampton Court there is a quantity of old china now well displayed in
the rooms shown to the public. This is a collection that well repays a
close examination. Let us see first what it does _not_ contain. The
_famille rose_ is unrepresented. I do not think that the _rouge d’or_
enamel is to be found on a single specimen. The ‘Old Japan’ or Imari is
not found, at least not in characteristic specimens. On the other hand
there are many interesting examples of Chinese enamelled ware which we
may class with the five-colour group (the blue of course _under_ the
glaze). They are roughly painted with figures in Ming costume, but in
these pieces the green is scarcely prominent enough to allow of our
placing them among the _famille verte_. They belong rather to that class
of late Wan-li or early Kang-he enamels which formed the starting-point
of the earliest enamelled wares of Imari and Kutani. Of the three-colour
glazes of the _demi grand feu_, I would point to two interesting vases,
about twelve inches in height, with a mottled decoration of green and
dark purple, and with yellow handles. There are quite a number of large
fish-bowls of blue and white, but these pieces are not remarkable either
for colour or design. Of more interest are two cylindrical vases
decorated, _sous couverte_, with blue and pale copper red, and a curious
vase of Persian shape covered with flowers in white slip over a _café au
lait_ ground. Again, the plain white figures of Quanyin, with the
‘Maintenon’ coif, and in some cases with the boy patron of learning at
the side, are here as abundant relatively as at Dresden, and there is
finally a well-executed figure of a Buddhist ascetic in white biscuit.
Unless it be by the blue and white, Japan is represented solely by the
‘Kakiyemon’ enamelled ware, with the blue _over the glaze_.

But we must not pass over the little glazed cabinet filled with quaint
pieces of Chinese porcelain. The contents of this cabinet have, it is
said, remained untouched since the day, more than two hundred years ago,
when they were arranged by Queen Mary. Among many curious pieces on its
shelves may be seen two buffaloes of a pale celadon ware, four vases of
‘hookah-base’ form, with strange-shaped spouts, and some censers in the
form of kilins.

The general impression, we may finally say, given by a somewhat close
inspection of the porcelain at Hampton Court, confirms the little we
know of the date of its origin. It represents a period anterior to the
great renaissance at King-te-chen at the end of the seventeenth century,
but only just anterior to that time, and it is the absence of the finer
and more brilliant wares made subsequently to this renaissance, examples
of which we are accustomed to see in our modern collections, that gives
a certain air of poverty to this porcelain collected by our ancestors.

In some of the palaces and castles of Germany may still be seen
collections of china made in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,
crowded together in the porcelain cabinet. Of these the best known,
perhaps, is that at the ‘Favorite,’ near Baden, but there are others in
the castle of the Waldstein family at Dux in Bohemia, and in Hungary in
the castle of Prince Esterhazy. Many of these collections have remained
unaltered since the time when they were first brought together, and it
is in this fact that their principal interest lies.

These china-cabinets are, of course, all eclipsed by the vast collection
brought together, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, by
Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and (at intervals) King of
Poland. But this collection has undergone many vicissitudes since the
time when it was first established in the handsome palace in the
Neustadt at Dresden. It escaped, indeed, with little damage from the
Prussian cannons during the Seven Years’ War; at the end of the century,
however, it was removed to a gloomy basement, but so carelessly was this
done that we hear of whole chests packed with broken fragments. In this
ill-arranged and dark room the collection remained for nearly a century,
until at last it has found a home in the well-lit galleries of the
Johanneum. Here it is now seen to full advantage, thanks to an
arrangement which combines historical sequence with a regard to general

Augustus the Strong died in 1733, and it is doubtful whether his
successor, August II. (August III. of Poland), who was above all a
collector of pictures, added to the collection.[140] There were, it
would seem, some examples of porcelain in the electoral collection at a
much earlier date.[141] In an inventory of 1640 several pieces of
porcelain are mentioned, and these are said to have been presented by
the _Herzog von Florentz_ in the year 1590. Among them (they cannot now
be identified) we find a vase of porcelain (_ein Pokal von Porcellana_),
blue and red with gilding, in the form of a crab; another in the form of
a dragon, coloured green and blue; a lantern of porcelain, green and
gold, adorned at the top with a standing figure; a small ‘pokal,’ gilt
and painted with all kinds of colours; and finally some large
eight-sided dishes decorated with blue. We should have expected to find
some examples of the new Medici porcelain along with these, but in the
inventory in question there is no mention of anything of the kind.

Augustus the Strong obtained most of his porcelain from Dutch dealers–a
certain Le Roy at Amsterdam is specially mentioned. Already in 1709 we
find him lending eight statuettes of white Chinese ware to Böttger, then
engaged with his experiments on the Königstein. In the year 1717 he
received from the King of Prussia nearly a hundred important vases and
dishes. In return for these, it is said, the king obtained a regiment
(or company) of tall dragoons, but this part of the bargain is not
mentioned in the official receipt for the porcelain, which has been

I have more than once referred to individual specimens in this famous
collection, and I shall not attempt to describe it now. Suffice to say
that the general impression given is that it is of a somewhat later date
than that at Hampton Court. Apart from a few early pieces which have
been already mentioned, and from some specimens of the _famille rose_
(and on these the new _rouge d’or_ is for the most part sparingly and,
as it were, tentatively applied), the coloured enamel ware in the
Dresden collection belongs in the bulk to the _famille verte_, and upon
intrinsic evidence might be attributed to the later years of Kang-he and
to the reign of his successor Yung-ching, say from 1690 to 1730. On the
Japanese side, we notice a number of dishes and vases in blue and white,
rather in the style of the later Ming ware exported to India and Persia,
a few choice specimens of the enamelled ‘Kakiyemon,’ and then the vast
series of ‘Old Japan’ or Imari porcelain–plates, vases, and bowls, many
of large size. Much of this last class was made to order, and this part
reflects the bad taste of the day. We find tall vases ‘adorned’ with
figures and flowers modelled in full relief in a kind of stucco and
gaudily painted with some oil medium or varnish. Some are converted into
cages for birds or squirrels by an external railing of brass rods.

With the exception of a few fine _garnitures_ in blue and white in ‘’t
Huis ten Bosch’ at the Hague, there appear to be no public collections
in Holland dating from the eighteenth century. But in spite of the
repeated razzias of dealers, both native and foreign, many old families
still retain collections of Chinese porcelain (of blue and white
especially), some of which may date from the latter part of the
seventeenth century, and many a rough-looking farmer, in country
districts, prides himself on the china-cabinet that he has inherited
from his ancestors.

Francis I. of France and his son Henri II. were, as is well known, great
collectors of works of art, and their collections at Fontainebleau may
be regarded as the foundation of the national museums of France. The
Rev. Père Dan, who described these collections at a later date, in his
_Trésors des Merveilles de Fontainebleau_ (1640) says–‘La étoient aussi
des vases et vaisselles en porcelaines de la Chine,’ and in an
eighteenth century notice we hear of a ‘vase de porcelaine de première
qualité ancienne de la Chine,’ which is said to have come from the
collection of Sully, the minister of Henri IV. In the second half of the
seventeenth century, at the great yearly fairs held in the
neighbourhood of Paris, Portuguese travelling merchants set up their
stalls for the sale of _les besognes de Chine_.[142] In 1678 the Duchess
of Cleveland’s porcelain was sold at the fair of St. Laurent. The
_Mercure_ of the day gives a list of the figures and mounted pieces.
Louis XIV., we are told, was surprised at the knowledge of Oriental
porcelain shown by James II.

At the end of the seventeenth century it became the fashion among the
_grands Seigneurs_ of the court of Louis XIV. to collect the _porcelaine
des Indes_, the Dauphin and the Duke of Orleans leading the way, and
through the agency of the short-lived _Compagnie de la Chine_[143]
(1685-1719) the latter prince was able to obtain from the East vases
decorated with his arms,[144] while of the Dauphin we hear that he
arranged his collection of blue and white in cabinets constructed by the
famous ebonist Boule. Unfortunately the gallery at Versailles where they
were placed was burned down soon afterwards (Du Sartel, _La Porcelaine
de la Chine_, p. 121). The porcelain of these princely collectors was
sold at a later time, and most of it passed into the hands of the
Vicomte de Fonspertuis; it was again dispersed when the works of art in
that famous collection were sold by auction in 1747. The catalogue on
this occasion was prepared by Gersaint,[145] the great dealer of the
day, for whose shop on the Pont Notre-Dame Watteau painted his famous
_Enseigne_. The notes in this catalogue are of some interest, in that
they are, perhaps, the earliest attempt, at least from a Western point
of view, at a critical description of Oriental porcelain. We can only
call attention to the remarks of Gersaint on the new enamel colours,
which in opposition to the blue and white ‘_on voit seulement depuis
quelques années_’; on the white ware with its ‘_ton velouté, doux et
mat_,’ which he tells us Spanish collectors prefer to all others, and on
the figures, animals, and ornaments which the Dutch ‘_souvent mal à
propos_’ painted over the beautiful white ware of China. Gersaint
ridicules also the fashion that will have nothing to say to any piece
without the brown line upon the lip or edge, so characteristic of the
porcelain imported about this time, and finally he calls attention to
the excellent imitation of the ‘Ancien Japon,’ made _some time since_ at
Dresden. A few specimens of this Saxon ware are the only examples of
European pottery in this extensive and varied collection.

Some twenty years later the collections of another friend and patron of
Watteau, M. de Jullienne, were sold by auction in the _Salon Carré_ of
the Louvre, and a detailed catalogue of the Oriental ware was drawn up
by the dealer Julliot. But for a more detailed account of the French
collections and collectors of the eighteenth century, we must refer the
reader to the chapter on this subject in M. Du Sartel’s already quoted

In the lengthy treatise of the Abbé Raynal on the history of the
_Commerce des Européens dans les Deux Indes_, there is an interesting
section treating of the porcelain of China and Japan, and of the
relation of these Oriental wares to the porcelain of Saxony and France.
The work was first published in 1770, but the remarks on porcelain were
probably written several years earlier. We have already noticed the six
classes into which he divides the wares imported from the East. We can
only note here that Raynal distinguishes the two classes of _porcelaine
blanche_–one of creamy tint, and the other cold and bluish. This ware,
he says, was imitated at Saint-Cloud, but with ‘frit’ and lead glaze.
His sympathies are all for the true porcelain of Dresden, and for the
ware lately made in France by the Count Lauraguais.

We have attempted in this chapter, perhaps at too great a length for a
work of this kind, to follow the steps by which the knowledge and
appreciation of Oriental porcelain spread gradually through the West. It
will be our next task to show, as briefly as possible, how on the ground
thus prepared there arose on all sides a desire to imitate this
beautiful ware.