Imperial porcelain of the Chenghua period is esteemed for the purity and quality of the porcelain clay, the innovation and delicacy of design and the perfection of the ‘doucai’ (‘contrasting colours’) technique. This technique, in which overglaze enamels are applied to a design delineated in underglaze blue, must have been difficult and expensive for it is confined to small, intimate objects of exquisite refinement. So esteemed was Chenghua ‘doucai’ that it was copied in succeeding centuries, most notably in the 1700s as demonstrated in the gallery’s delicate example of the famous ‘chicken cup’ type (Acc.no. 193.1992).
The six-character mark on the base of the jar indicates it was made before 1481, when the single character for 'heaven' replaced the reign mark. The freely drawn underglaze blue outlines are clearly visible beneath the adeptly applied overglaze enamels of iron red, green and dark yellow. This rare example has a companion piece (with cover) in the Palace Museum in Beijing, but few other examples exist of this important type of early 'doucai' decoration.
The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.118.
Jar decorated with five medallions containing flower and foliage
porcelain with underglaze blue and overglaze enamels in the 'doucai' style
6.3 cm diam. of mouth; 12.3 x 12.2 cm
Signature & date
Signed and dated.
Gift of Charles Binnie 1939
Where the work was made
Shown in 1 exhibition
Conversations through the Asian collections, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Oct 2014–28 Feb 2016
Referenced in 2 publications
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The Marvel of Porcelain', Sydney, 2003, 118 (colour illus.).
Julian Thompson, Orientations, 'Chinese Porcelain in the Collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 96-103, Hong Kong, Sep 2000, 97, 98 (illus.; colour illus.). fig.3, 3a (mark)