c. 1700
Porcelain and enamel
28 1/2 x 10 7/8 x 10 7/8 in. (72.39 x 27.62 x 27.62 cm) Height: 28 1/2 in. (72.39 cm) Diameter: 10 7/8 in. (27.62 cm)
Decorative Arts and Design
Wendy and Emery Reves Collection - Porcelain , Level 3
Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art.

General Description

In 1683, Cang Yingxuan became head of the Imperial Factory at Jingdezhen. Under his leadership, exceptional enameled pieces like this vase were produced. Those decorated with a predominantly green palette are called famille verte. The Chinese called such pieces yingcai, which means "hard colors."

This baluster vase is a tour de force of enameling and is ornamented with numerous important symbols. The body is finely painted, beautifully proportioned, and colored with famille verte wucai (five color) enamels: translucent green, eggplant purple, yellow, iron-red, and black. The decorative scheme is planned to entice the viewer's eye s around the vase by the placement of the rectangular white background scenes which do not line up in a vertical axis. These scenes are surrounded by and contrasted with a framework of border panels painted with a light green seeded ground scattered with orange-red and purplish lotuses and soaring butterflies ion black, white, yellow, aubergine. and orange-red. One is never quite sure whether the scenes are two-dimensional plaques placed in front of the seeded borders, or are to be considered as windows through which the objects or animals are viewed in the distance. This ambiguity acts as a lively counterpoint to the vase's calm purity of form.

The animals in the waist panels are the mythical flying unicorn, or qilin (kylin), and on the opposite side a tiger gazing at a phoenix. The phoenix represents summer and the harvest. The Buddhist Hundred Antiques, or bogu (po ku), appear in between the panels. The upper and lower panels have landscapes with peonies, rockwork, grasses, and other natural elements. On the shoulder are four secular symbols within lotiform reserves which represent the Four Gentlemanly Pursuits: music, chess, learning, and painting. Foot and lip borders have lotuses reserved on an iron-red ground. There is an underglaze blue double ring mark on the underside which often appears in Kangxi (K'ang Hsi) period porcelain.

Adapted from

  • Dallas Museum of Art, Decorative Arts Highlights from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1995), 94.

  • Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1985), 184.

Web Resources

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Read more about Chinese Export Porcelain