Description This bell-shaped cup has a delicate body of white eggshell porcelain. Cobalt-blue underglaze paint forms a band of interlinking trefoil foliated designs that rest on the cup’s external foot. The interior is decorated with a lightly molded or impressed five clawed dragon in the paste of the porcelain; the fantastical creature mingles with flames and clouds as it pursues precious jewels. These two decorative elements, the painting outside and the raised designs of the inside, accentuate the thinness of the porcelain. If the cup were to be held up to the light the blue painting would be made visible on the inside and the dragons would reveal themselves on the outside, thus integrating the external and internal designs. The year 1683 during the Kangxi reign (1662-1722) marks the return of the Imperial production of porcelain and the reinstitution of the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen. A revival of imperial blue and white porcelain resulted in superbly crafted porcelains with well combined body, glaze, cobalt pigment, and skillful decoration. Refined blue cobalt allowed for adventurous and varied painting techniques, emulating watercolor on paper. Blue and white porcelain was popularized in China by the Mongol emperors during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Trade along The Silk Road meant access to Middle Eastern imports, including Persian and Central Asian cobalt ore that facilitated the porcelain production from the 14th to the early 15th century. Domestic sources of cobalt ore, including the vibrant Buddha Head blue, replaced or were mixed with the expensive imported cobalt.
- Imagining China: The View from England, 1550-1700. Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington. 2009-2010.
Provenance William T. or Henry Walters Collection, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931.
Inscriptions reign mark of Kangxi (1662-1722)
Credit Acquired by William T. or Henry Walters
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