Blue & White

Practically speaking, Chinese blue and white porcelain is contrived using a blue pigment from cobalt oxide. It creates designs on clean white clay which is glazed and fired at high temperatures, but the history of blue and white Chinese pottery is much more poetic.

Blue and white ceramics hold a special significance in the rich and varied history of China’s pottery industry and the origin of the famous blue gained recognition during the Tang dynasty (618 – 907). However it wasn’t until the Mongolian-ruled Yuan dynasty (1279 – 1368) that the production techniques of what has become antique blue and white stoneware reached maturity.

As the Silk Road trade route flourished, cobalt ores were imported from Persia and were an extremely expensive and scarce commodity used only sparingly, hence why blue and white China antique vases, bowls and plates are highly desired by collectors, both for their beauty and their scarcity.

The Yuan artisans took extraordinary pride in their work because it had a mythological, almost religious element, the Yuan mythical animal large charger in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (collection number EAX.1707) is a classical representation.

Chinese blue and white porcelain has always been highly prized, often reserved for diplomatic gifts and special occasions.

Available Pieces
  • M3267 

    £6,850

    Chinese porcelain blue and white kosometsuke saucer-dish painted with four horses in a field, one galloping, one standing, one with head turned and one recumbent beside a seated groom playing a flute amongst grass sprays, all within a single line in underglaze blue, the reverse with stylised branches, with recessed base and unglazed biscuit foot rim.

  • M4472

    £3,850

    Chinese porcelain blue and white kosometsuke deep plate with everted rim, painted in the centre in vivid blue tones with a fisherman standing at the stern with the rectangular sail open, with rock work in the foreground and a two-tiered pagoda in the distance beneath the moon, with an unusual lappet border in the form of a flower, the underside with sprays of branches.

  • M5246

    £POA

    Chinese porcelain underglaze blue and white fishbowl painted in a continuous cloud-covered scene, with sixteen boys in groups of four, at various playful pursuits such as; flying kites, playing weiqi, gathering lotus flowers and playing with puppets, in a fenced garden, divided by banana plant, pine and fruiting and flowering trees, most issuing from taihu rocks.

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  • M5553

    £22,500

    Chinese porcelain blue and white kettle and cover with baluster form body and upright gate-form handle, painted with a seated qilin with his right front leg raised amongst rockwork with mountains in the distance beneath flames, the reverse with a mythical ram seated in a similar pose also with mountains in the distance above v-shaped grass, the shoulder with a band of lotus flowerheads on a continuous scrolling branch with leaves and branches, the neck with two flowerheads and the handle with three flowerheads amongst ruyi-clouds, the spout with a lotus flowerhead, the cover painted with leaves and sprays of bamboo beneath an upright ribbed knop.

  • M5557

    £POA

    Chinese porcelain blue and white lantern-form ovoid jar and cover painted in a continuous scene with a seated qilin, his right front leg raised, in a fenced landscape scene looking at a peacock in flight amongst v-shaped grass, pine branches, rockwork, camellia, bamboo and plantain, beneath stylised clouds and flames, between anhua bands of scrolling flowerheads and ‘leaves’, the neck with lappets, the cover painted with a seated white rabbit amongst rockwork, v-shaped grass and aster above a band of flowerheads and scrolls.

  • R1205

    £POA

    Chinese porcelain blue and white sleeve vase, painted with Han Xin escaping at night on horseback and being pursued by Xiao He and his cohorts, all in a continuous mountain river landscape scene with Han Xin speedily riding away beside a lake beneath the moon and stars, with Xiao He on his horse behind a rock, together with his attendant holding a lantern and two foot soldiers in the foreground amongst rockwork, cloud scrolls, plants and v-shape grass and beneath an anhua scrolling band of flowers and leaves within two pairs of incised lines, the neck with flowers, scrolls and precious objects, and above a further anhua band at the foot, the base unglazed revealing the biscuit body, the blue of excellent tone.

  • R1418

    £48,500

    Chinese porcelain blue and white bottle vase with tall cylindrical flaring neck and globular rounded body, painted in a continuous scene with a seated cat looking up at butterflies in flight amongst leaves, aster, see-through rockwork and grass beneath the sun, the shoulder with a band of flowerheads and leaves, the neck painted with a bifid tailed chilong dragon amongst branches of scrolling lotus with wan characters, all between underglaze blue double lines.

  • R1419

    £35,000

    Chinese porcelain blue and white vase of double gourd form painted on the globular lower register with a hunting scene with three equestrian archers and a further equestrian with a whip and swinging an implement in pursuit of a stag, the shoulder with a band of flower heads on a continuous scrolling leafy branch, the pear-shaped top register similarly painted with an equestrian in pursuit of a stag also with a whip and swinging implement, all amongst willow branches, pine, v-shaped grass, rockwork and cloud banks, the gently flared rim painted with a wide band of stylised flowers and jewels.

  • M4655

    £58,000

    Chinese imperial porcelain blue and white deep circular dish, the well of the centre painted in reverse technique with a boy holding a branch of peony flowers amongst stylised scrolling foliage on a blue ground roundel under a band of blossoms and stylised scrolls, the exterior painted with flower branches.

  • M4887

    £7,500

    A Chinese porcelain blue and white kosometsuke circular blue and white saucer dish, painted with three fish swimming amongst aquatic plants, above stylised waves, beneath the moon, the top half of the dish with seven stylised aquatic plants, the underside glazed celadon, the base recessed and glazed white.

  • M4950

    £POA

    A Chinese imperial porcelain blue and white small saucer dish, painted in the centre in luminous vivid tones, with three scaled mythical animals including a qilin, a monkey headed qilin and an elephant headed animal, together with a tiger and a dragon emerging from rockwork beneath ruyi clouds, with a pine branch, other plants, rockwork and flowerheads, encircled with a continuous border of a lotus pound with pairs of geese, ducks, cranes and other birds amongst lotus flowers, leaves, arrow heads and aquatic leaves, the underside with six branches of pomegranate, hibiscus, persimmon, morning glory, peach and another flowering branch. Japanese wood box.

  • M5402

    £24,000

    A Chinese porcelain blue and white kendi of elephant form with upright handle beneath the wide flanged blue glaze rim, painted with a saddle cloth with wan characters and central cash tied around the neck and hind quarters with hanging ornaments, the handle painted with prunus branches and rockwork, with a slightly raised flower-head band on its back, the upright head with detailed ears and eyes, with trunk form spouts, the detailed tail also in relief, the base unglazed.

  • M5421/2 

    £POA

    A pair of Chinese porcelain blue and white square flasks and covers each painted with four different scenes, probably from the story of Yang Yi and her family, Yang Jia Jiang Yanji, with scenes of her in full armour on horseback, holding two swords aloft and going into battle while another army flees, another with her meeting a general, another of ministers meeting a general, and a further scene with her seated in formal military attire at a table while her soldiers bring in a prisoner naked to the waist with his hands tied behind his back, all within triangular diaper borders, with a wan character ground at the shoulder, and flowering branches on the neck, with different matched covers, one with key-fret and fish panels, the other with lozenge and ruyi heads, the finials with a fu character, good fortune. The unglazed bases revealing the biscuit body with recessed glazed square centres, each with a ribbon tied leaf mark in underglaze blue.

  • M5423/4

    £26,000

    Pair of Chinese porcelain blue and white wine ewers, each with rounded globular body, tall cylindrical tapered neck, with a relief flanged beneath the mouth and a dragon-head handle, painted with lobed lozenge form floral reserves amongst flower heads between similar borders, the neck with similar reserves on a net form ground, the handle with blue glazed open mouth dragon head and scrolling branches, terminating in a large leaf. The flat bases on glazed revealing the smooth white biscuit body.

  • M5455

    £8,500

    A Chinese porcelain blue and white ball form fluted teapot and cover, painted with six panels of vases and baskets of flower holding lotus, prunus, morning glory and aster, with large rabbit beneath a bamboo form upright gate handle and bamboo form spout, the cover with flower sprays and rockwork, executed in the same linear fashion.

  • M5458and9

    £18,500

    A pair of Chinese porcelain blue and white hexagonal dishes with lobed petal-shape rims, each painted with a white dappled horse leaping above crested and swirling waves amongst flames and prunus flower heads, the underside similarly decorated with a band of waves all between underglaze blue double lines.

  • M5516

    £4,250

    A Chinese porcelain blue and white kosometsuke plate, painted in the centre with a rabbit with his head turned upwards in white on an underglaze blue roundel, encircled by four different geometric grounds including key-fret, cash, chainmail and scales, divided by a cross, each terminating with a pair of cions, all beneath a blue ground boarder, on a scrolling ground, the underside with flower heads and scrolls.

  • M5426

    £15,000

    Chinese porcelain blue and white kosometsuke incense burner modelled as a rectangular box, the cover with a reclining Buddhist lion splashed with fukozumi on the body, the raised rectangular plinth form base painted on the wide side in reverse technique with a flowerhead and scrolling branches on a blue ground, the ends with a precious double lozenge, all between double lines in underglaze blue.

Further information on Blue & White

During the early Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644), the supply of cobalt oxide from Persia was briefly halted due to foreign trade restrictions and a locally-mined cobalt was used. It’s high concentration of manganese resulted in a softer, more pale blue and it continued to be used all the way through the reigns of emperors Xuande, Chenghua and Zhengde through the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.

It was also at this time that smalt cobalt – achieved by mixing cobalt oxide with molten glass and brought to China by Zheng He’s maritime expeditions – was used to create stunning blue and white Chinese pottery. It resulted in brilliant blues visible in the glazed surfaces of blue and white china antique plates, blue and white china antique vases and blue and white china antique bowls.

As was their wont, the desirability of what has become antique blue and white stoneware was largely dependent on the tastes of each emperor. The fifth Ming emperor Xuande enjoyed Mineral Blue (shizi qing) from Jiangxi province mixed with Muslim Blue (huiqing) from predominantly Central Asia. This generated a deeper purplish-blue tone while the favoured blue and white Chinese porcelain of the ninth Ming emperor Chenghua used the locally-sourced cobalt with high concentrations of manganese, resulting in a paler hue for the blue and white ceramics produced for his Imperial court.

You should also check

Paintings

Chinese paintings, typically gouche and watercolour.

Famille Verte from Private Collections

18 piece exhibition of Chinese famille verte porcelain, Kangxi period. 28th October – 12th November 2021.

Famille Rose

Objects of the aforementioned colour palette primarily identified by the use of a pink enamel.