Description & Technical information

China, Kangxi period (1662 – 1722)

These fine bowls, on a high foot ring, are distinctively covered on both interior and exterior with a splashed sancai (tri-colour ) glaze in yellow, green and aubergine-brown. In China this décor is known as the hupiban (tiger-skin) pattern and referred to in the West as ‘egg-and-spinach’. The French also refer to this type of decoration as ‘harlequin’.

Sancai decoration originated in the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), when they used these colours for lead glazing on pottery. On Kangxi porcelain, this unusual effect was created by applying stained glazes with a large brush directly onto the biscuit body coated with slip. It was then covered again with a clear glaze and fired at a lower temperature of about 900°C. Some areas of the body-colour show through the clear glaze, forming a fourth white colour. The underside and rims usually remain undecorated, and sometimes entirely unglazed. Other shapes featuring Spinach and Egg decoration include figures, animals, brush washers and ewers.

Similar Kangxi bowls from the imperials kilns, with a blue-and-white imperial mark, are in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing and the Shanghai Museum. But generally these types of bowls would have been made in civilian kilns. In late 19th and early 20th century this type of porcelain was wildly collected in Europe and America - often with other enamel on biscuit porcelain – by important collectors from this era such as Mrs. Nellie Ionides, Henry Clay Frick and John Pierpoint Morgan.

Date:  1710
Period:  1600-1750, 18th century
Origin:  China
Medium: porcelain, Enamel
Dimensions: 20 cm (7⁷/₈ inches)
Provenance: Daniel Carasso Collection, France.
Literature: • Christiaan J.A. Jörg, Famille Verte. Chinese Porcelain in Green Enamels, Exhitibiton Groninger Museum, 2011, pl.118

• Leif Petzäll (ed.) & Erik Engel, Chinese Ceramic Treasures; A Selection from Ulrichehamn East Asian Museum, including The Carl Kempe Collection. Catalogue Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Ulrichehamn, 2002, pl.153

• Kangxi Porcelain Wares; from the Shanghai Museum Collection, Shanghai, 1998, pl.139

• Suzanne G. Valenstein, A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1975, pl.145

Categories: Oriental and Asian Art