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Bottle Vase Made for a Portuguese Trader
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Bottle Vase Made for a Portuguese Trader

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description The inscription around the shoulder of this blue and white bottle, written upside-down in imitation of a Portuguese model states that the vase was made in 1552 for Jorge Anriques, a Portuguese trading ship captain. Blue and White porcelain in China came about as a result of the combination of the Chinese porcelain tradition with the trade in cobalt blue from Persia. Porcelain is a hard white ceramic composed of white-china clay, called kaolin, and refined porcelain stone, or petuntse. When fired together, these materials fuse to create a hard, vitrified ceramic. Blue and White porcelain is the successor to the Chinese Qingbai and Shufu traditions that preceded it, or ceramics with a white glaze and a slightly blue or blue-green tint. To achieve the Blue and White decorative style, cobalt underglaze is applied to the porcelain; it is then covered in clear glaze and fired. Cobalt was used by Persian potters for centuries before its import to China. It was introduced in approximately 1325 A.D. through with Persian merchant communities established along the Chinese coast. Following the introduction of this new, exotic decorative style, the city of Jingdezhen, known as the porcelain capital of China, began producing Blue and White porcelain wares with imported cobalt. By the 1520s, Chinese porcelain manufacturers were producing wares specifically for the Portuguese market. Blue and White wares were adorned with European designs including Manuel I's coat of arms and Portuguese phrases.
Date Description Narrative
4/18/1983Examinationexamined for loan
  • World of Wonder. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1971-1972.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese Porcelain. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1980-1981.
  • Portuguese Discoveries and Renaissance Europe. Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon. 1983.
  • Saint Francis Xavier: His Life and Times. Kawasaki City Museum, Kawasaki; Yamaguchi Perfectural Museum of Art, Yamaguchi-shi; Tobu Museum of Art, Tokyo; Kagoshima Prefectural Museum of Art, Kagoshima City; Okazaki Mindscape Museum, Okazaki-shi; Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, Nagasaki City. 1999.
  • Encompassing the Globe. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 2007.
Provenance Laffan Sale, 1911, lot 75; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1911 [mode of acquisition unknown]; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931.
Inscriptions dated 1552 / Portuguese inscriptions: "Jorge Alvrz n egeo nam dou - a era de 1552 reina." Translation: "Jorge Alvarez ordered this to be made in the year 1552 of the reign [of King John III]."
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1911

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porcelain with underglaze blue
Accession Number
H: 10 in. (25.4 cm)
  • China (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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