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Subject:re -send photos
Posted By: plasticman Thu, Jan 11, 2018 IP:

I don't know if photos were sent,therefore I am resending them.

Subject:Re: re -send photos
Posted By: plasticman Fri, Jan 12, 2018


Subject:Re: re -send photos
Posted By: Bill H Sat, Jan 13, 2018

In His latest Book, "Allen's Antique Chinese Porcelain - The Detection of Fakes", Tony Allen states that in general, a four-character underglaze blue Kangxi reign mark like the one on your dish indicates a production date after 1870, and usually closer to 1900. Following his admonition that for every rule there's an exception, I would add that a Mainland-published compendium of historical porcelain markings does show a few popular kiln dishes with four-character Kangxi marks that listed as period, though some look to me very much like Guangxu-period "Kangxi Revival" dishes, which are lauded in the West for their great fidelity to period form and decoration. Examples of such Guangxu-era Kangxi-style wares from my collection are shown herewith.

So the bottom line is not to give up on the general rule quite yet of underglaze blue four-character Kangxi marks indicating late 20th century or subsequent production.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:4 character marks
Posted By: plasticman Mon, Jan 15, 2018

Thank you Bill.In his book "Chinese Export Porcelain" Lunsingh Scheurleer has a chapter on marks. He does demonstrate what he feels are legit 4 character marks on 18th century porcelain. He even goes on to explain how the 2 characters are removed so that the 4 remaining marks are shifted in their position. If you look at my photos of the obverse side of the plate (see 1st posting ), the cobalt and brushwork details look "period",and the reverse hand painted circles and border designs appear as they should be.It does make a case for the violation of a 'rule".

Subject:Re: 4 character marks
Posted By: Bill H Tue, Jan 16, 2018

I haven't read the Lunsingh Scheurleer book, but there's no doubt that many porcelains with four-character Kangxi marks exist, as they are pictured in Palace Museum and other Mainland China and Taiwan publications. The vast majority of them are on imperial wares, with probably just a handful appearing on dishes from popular kilns (minyao).

Tony Allen, again cautioning how exceptions may exist, cites another general rule in his most recent book regarding fake Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong reign marks. This one holds that they didn't appear on the scene until the Guangxu era (1875-1908).

I can see reason to believe this, because when one of these emperors died, Confucian ethic demanded continued respect and reverence not only from their subjects but by sons and successors. Reign marks were strictly regulated at the time, and there simply was no wiggle room in Lese Majeste codes for posthumously disrespecting any of these "High Qing" emperors, including abuse of their reign marks. You've got to figure, if the Qianlong emperor was willing to retire early so he wouldn't rule longer than his grandfather, he probably wouldn't mind ordering heads chopped off for any perceived offense to that same grandpa.

Ming reign marks were fair game, since apocryphal use of them actually had begun during the Ming period and continued into the Qing era to satisfy the thirst of the aristocracy for "official old wares" in their porcelain collections. But if anyone was caught was an imperial dish that wasn't awarded to them by the emperor, they were subject to execution.

I don't want to steal any of Tony Allen's thunder, but I have doubts about whether there was any sizable proliferation of four-character Kangxi marks after 1680, when official wares other than ritual types were first produced and the Imperial Kangxi mark came into general use. It is my impression that the six-character version was the principal mark in use during this early period. Also, I've never seen any indication that the use of Kangxi markings of either kind were the rule for export wares.

So all things considered, with a four-character underglaze blue mark on your dish, the best chance is still going to be that it was made for export in the late 19th or early 20th century, at a time when Chinese domestic porcelain consumption was driving the practice of adding apocryphal marks of everybody's favorite ancestral emperor to the base.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:Re: 4 character marks
Posted By: plasticman Thu, Jan 18, 2018

I was ready to give up on 4 character marks and authentic 18th century porcelain when I thought to scan a book I got in Taipei. This is one put out as the"Masterworks of Chinese porcelain in the National Palace Museum". In the back of the book are reign marks that correspond to the porcelains shown in color. There are at least three examples of 4 character reign marks from throughout the 18th century. I am not assured the "rule" holds a great deal of water.

Subject:Re: 4 character marks
Posted By: Bill H Fri, Jan 19, 2018

After some fruitless searching through museum catalogs, I finally dredged up the passage I was looking for, within Liu Liang-yu's volume on "Ch'ing Official and Popular Wares", which is No. 5 in his series called "A Survey of Chinese Ceramics". Definitely heavy reading at just under eight pounds.

For those who may not have heard of him, Liu distinguished himself in the field of Chinese ceramics over the years, having once been on the staff of the Palace Museum in Taipei and later moving to the Chinese Cultural University at Yangmingshan. His positions have afforded him virtually unparalleled access to the collections of the Taipei Palace Museum, and since the thaw in relations, entrée to collections in Beijing's Gugong as well.

I was introduced to him by a mutual friend in Taipei when I was working there in the 1980s, and as a result, managed to garner an invitation to visit his studio. It was as much a laboratory, as he had a small kiln there, which he was using at the time to refire pieces from his blue & white shard collection to get a better idea of the tones of the cobalt during various periods.

In the Qing survey, Liu addresses four-character marks on K'ang-hsi official ware separately, saying: "Normally speaking, marks on K'ang-hsi official ware occur in one of three colours - red, blue or black. Enamel painted ware is only known to bear red or blue marks in enamel colours, hence enamel painted ware bearing a cobalt blue mark is not considered very reliable."

Liu then proceeds to separately categorize underglaze blue cobalt marks on blue & white official wares of the Kangxi Reign, all of which marks are six-character.

So I believe Liu succinctly says that dishes with four-character underglaze blue cobalt marks cannot be Kangxi official wares and should be viewed with suspicion. Unfortunately, the Chinese Language compendium of marks I've previously mentioned doesn't say if the four-character minyao marks it has for the Kangxi period are over-glaze or underglaze, though they all appear to be typical cobalt.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:Re: 4 character marks
Posted By: plasticman Sat, Jan 20, 2018

The marks on the piece in question appear to be not Kangxi, but Xianlong. Am I off base in my interpretation?

Subject:Re: 4 character marks
Posted By: Bill H Sun, Jan 21, 2018

I've never seen a Kangxi mark of any type attributed to the Qianlong era. The mark on your plate, in my opinion, is consistent with others found among the myriad that came with the Kangxi Renaissance porcelains of the late 19th - early 20th century, such as these circa 1900 kraak-type dishes.

Best regards,

Bill H. | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |