Subject:Re: Kangxi or Wanli? A blue and white dish and issues with Hobson
Posted By: Sat, Jul 07, 2012 IP: 18.104.22.168
I'd guess this dish to be of the Transitional Period, which the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art defines as beginning at the end of the Wanli reign in 1620 and continuing until the arrival of Zhang Yingxuan to direct imperial production at Jingdezhen in 1683. This was 22 years after the Kangxi emperor ascended to the throne, constituting slightly more than one third of the reign.
Hobson's perception of how much Late Ming porcelain was marked seems to me to have been off a bit. His estimate of 'virtually unknown' might have differed using data available today.
The first Hatcher cargo was called Ming, though tends to get dated to circa 1643-46, which straddles the beginning of the Qing dynasty in 1644. I've included herewith the photo of a small B&W cup with a six-character Jiajing mark. European collector Georg Weishaupt owned an identical cup from the first Hatcher junk and published it as 17th century in his 2002 catalog, 'The Great Fortune'. Except for a rim chip showing on the Weishaupt cup, both his and mine are in very good condition, pointing up that when it comes to condition, not all late Ming/transitional porcelains were created equal, which I'm sure you already know.
A second image that I'm attaching separately is of an 7.25-inch B&W bowl which also has a Jiajing mark. I attribute it to the 17th century based on the 'cartoony' animals and comparison to published information from that period. For the purposes of your bowl, it also shows what I believe are typical problems afflicting glazes of the transitional period. Note the extensive fritting on the rim, where the applied glaze settled to a quite thin and fragile thickness in the kiln.
Lastly I'm attaching separately a third photo of a dish shaped like yours but smaller in diameter by a couple of inches. Though bearing a six-character Ming Chenghua mark, it also is afflicted with many of the problems exhibited by your dish, particularly the fritting along the outer edge of the rim. I believe it probably dates to the early Kangxi period, circa 1662-1700, since most 'Long Eliza' dishes like it tend to get a Kangxi label.
The Liu Liangyu 'Survey' covering 'Ch'ing Official and Popular Wares' illustrates a number of early Qing B&W porcelains, marked and unmarked and made at Jingdezhen and Dehua alike. Liu makes a point that kiln personnel from the Ming period continued to work alongside those installed by Qing management. Also pertinent, Liu cites the 'Jingdezhen Daolu' as saying that while a few Kangxi imperial family altar wares were made in year ten (1671) of the reign, the actual production of official wares for palace use did not begin until Kangxi year 19 (1680).
Liu's research may also apply when he makes case for disassociating the palace from the appearance of Ming marks on Kangxi-era porcelain, though he notes that Lang Tingqi may deserve credit for popularizing Ming marks in the context of 'Official Old Wares' which were produced at Jingdezhen under his supervision after 1705. Liu takes the position that the term 'Lang Kiln' (Langyao) is applicable to such porcelains. By implication, I conclude from Liu that before 1705, the use of older Ming marks by Chinese commercial kilns was not of great concern to the palace and apparently wasn't regulated among commercial producers.
Under these circumstances, I believe 'Transitional' may be a better dating than trying to tag your dish precisely as either Ming or Qing. Hope this helps and invite critical comments.