Subject:Re: Yellow Guangxu mark bowl
Posted By: Bill H Sun, Nov 17, 2019
Sally's yellow bowl is a bit larger and has a brighter yellow glaze but otherwise the external incised dragon decoration and white-glazed interior reflect some of the Guangxu-era porcelains made for imperial consorts of the first rank (huang guifei). One of these bowls is illustrated as No. 119 in the Weishaupt Collection catalog, 'Vom Schatz der Drachen' by Gunhild Avitabile. The imperial bowl, of course, has no fish motif inside.
Tony Allen illustrates, as a period piece, an imperial yellow Guangxu tea bowl of the type made for the first rank consort in his latest book, 'Allen's Antique Chinese Porcelain -- The Detection of Fakes', as fig. 25.1.8a & b (see image below). He comments that, while rare, the numbers of these bowls in Western collections and Museums alone must exceed the quantities stipulated to be made. He cites as a possible explanation that the toxicity of the yellow antimony based glaze had been recognized, and the inside changed to white to lessen the risk of poisoning. I suppose that all porcelain producers of that period sought more interesting motifs, perhaps like the fish in Sally's bowl, when making their dishes safe for use with food.
In any event, I'd still hold out some promise of Sally's bowl being of the period, because the marks, decoration and firing characteristics all share degrees of similarity with other pieces of this period. Tony also provided a point of conventional wisdom among experienced Chinese in the porcelain business, holding that Guangxu porcelain marks weren't fabricated until the 1960s, which means the disasters of the 'Hundred Flowers' and 'Cultural Revolution' periods when porcelain production left a lot to be desired. Even after that time, much of the porcelain being made was obviously new because of its perfect glaze and the use of transfer decoration.