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Subject:Chinese Imari or just clobbering?
Posted By: JLim Fri, Oct 20, 2017 IP:

Hi all

Please feel free to reject this post because it contains images from a still-current ebay auction; however, the object, I am convinced, is accurately described in the auction.

Just to have something to discuss; below are images of the front and rear of an object I had always pegged as Chinese Imari in style, dated to the 18th century.

I am comfortable with the 18th century part; what I was surprised at is the third image. This is an object that is correctly described in its ebay listing as an 18th century dish; however, the seller, who is generally knowledgeable, describes it as "clobbered". That is, he believes the blue part was painted in China, but the red and gold part was painted in Holland.

I find that hard to believe. Does this form of decoration constitute clobbering? Surely it is just normal Chinese Imari with Chinese style rouge-de-fer and gold decorations over underglaze blue?

If this is merely clobbering, then what does that imply for my own dish? Surely this cannot be clobbered; the blue decoration is literally meaningless without the red and gold decorations. Otherwise the original decoration in China constituted scattered blue twigs and pebbles, surely!

Kind regards

Subject:Re: Chinese Imari or just clobbering?
Posted By: Bill H Sun, Oct 22, 2017

Definitely Chinese Imari. The painting and pattern, including the budding branches beneath the outer rim, as well as the porcelain dish form, are all associated with the late Kangxi and Yongzheng period.

Unlike a lot of collectors and dealers I've met, who possibly think Chinese Imari wasn't made after 1722, I like to give the Yongzheng and Qianlong Emperors their due. Here are some shots of a Yongzheng period (1723-35) dish with a Magpie in a peony bush in the cavetto, a mostly underglaze floral diaper on the rise of the rim, some delicate underglaze blue phoenix and flora tracery atop the outer rim surface, a neat gilt arabesque at the outer edge and of course, a pair of flowering plum branches underneath. I must brag at having bought three of these 8-inch plates, including two in the fine condition shown (the other with rubbing to the magpie) for a sum of about $175.00 at the 2005 Miami Beach Antique Show & Sale. I believe they have appreciated since then.

Best regards,

Bill H.

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Subject:Re: Chinese Imari or just clobbering?
Posted By: JLim Tue, Oct 24, 2017

Dear Bill

Thank you kindly for your help. Might I ask what makes your dish Yongzheng and not some other Emperor? Is it the relatively greyish cobalt, or the design?

And might I ask what our dishes might be worth nowadays?

Kind regards

Subject:Re: Chinese Imari or just clobbering?
Posted By: Bill H Thu, Oct 26, 2017

If you review a bunch of Chinese Imari sale results in venues such as Christie's,, and Guest & Gray, you'll generally find four principal date categories given of "18th century", "Kangxi", "Kangxi-Yongzheng" and "Qianlong".

My perception from what I've read and heard is that while the palette had been known earlier, the manufacture of Chinese Imari Wares didn't really get rolling until the early 18th century, toward the end of the Kangxi reign, at a time when many porcelain manufacturing techniques and palettes were still being fine-tuned. Keep in mind that the last minute Ming uprising that had kept the fate of the Imperial Kilns in question, had only been quelled around 1680, permitting the firing of ritual porcelains for use in the Imperial sacrifices.

The rather short dozen-year reign of the Yongzheng Emperor(1723-35) was a frenetic period of innovation at the imperial kiln, with the Emperor taking a deep personal interest in improved porcelain-making and its administration; one arrogant official wound up being executed. I infer from what I've read that porcelain quality underwent somewhat of a quantum leap at Jingdezhen, meaning more income for the palace from collection of the porcelain tax.

Finally, it is my understanding that the popularity of Chinese Imari had started to decline by the mid-1700s as the craze for the famille rose palette was skyrocketing.

So with all the foregoing in mind, I believe that dish I've already shown here, with its underglaze blue tracery and first-class pattern of the time-honored bird & flower motif, represents the kind of improved quality that the Yongzheng emperor was willing to kill for and did. I'm unsure of what implications should be attached to the fact that I've only been able to spot one other example of this pattern beside the three I have. In any event, here's the one, an 11-inch charger from a Christie's auction in 2005, along with some shots of a 12.25-inch charger in the same pattern I'd found at an estate sale in 2004, and some enlargeable views of the smaller dish already seen.

Best regards,

Bill H.

URL Title :Chinese Imari Pictures & Auction Result

Subject:Re: Chinese Imari or just clobbering?
Posted By: Bill H Fri, Oct 27, 2017


Finally had some time to scan the Sotheby's archive and found another large charger sold in 2014 with what I can discern now is the same pattern that came up from the 2005 sale in the review of Christie's auctions (picture & details added to the sharing link). The latter's picture was so small that I was unable to see details of the rim, which in the Sotheby's dish clearly has a molded pattern and no underglaze blue phoenix & flowering branch tracery.

Best of all, Sotheby's description attributes their charger explicitly to the Yongzheng period, circa 1730. As such, I believe the molded rim and added painted touches, such as a butterfly and possibly some famille rose pink in the palette, are evidence of further improvements of the sort I think justify the call of Yongzheng for my own dishes.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:Re: Chinese Imari or just clobbering?
Posted By: JLim Sun, Oct 29, 2017

Dear Bill

Thanks Bill, those are some impressive chargers. As you say, the little bits of famille rose colouration on the bird are probably the securest clue that the plates are post-Kangxi.

Kind regards

Subject:Re: Chinese Imari or just clobbering?
Posted By: plasticman Tue, Nov 14, 2017

The plates that are truly described as "clobbered" usually have the basic design (red/gold) painted in China and then have a heavy- handed dark blue enamel added in Europe. Your plate is a fine example of Chinese Imari with no hint of "clobber".I would date it to the early 1730s by style and color. The decoration on the reverse,that is often neglected in the dating process, helps define the period of production. | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |