Subject:A Continuation of the Red Glazed Discussion
Posted By: Anthony J Allen Sun, Mar 07, 2010 IP: 18.104.22.168
Lee has made a number of assertions which I take issue with, but rather than attempt to answer these over several postings, I have consolidated these into one.
Lee, before you post more disparaging comments about my knowledge, you really do need to read both of my books and those of the early Western writers Bushell, Hobson and the Scherzer/Vogt commentaries.
You said in one of your earlier posts:"Hi bill, there has to be crackle on the glaze, to be authentic. That is because the temperature in the old wood coal kilns were not constant and when there is a thick glaze there is bound to be crackling. You don't get them on electric oven modern flambe or langyao vases. An absence of crackling is a sure sign of a modern fake.There is lots of crackle on the 18th century flambe jar I posted. They appear as fine white lines in the picture. I think I can see it on Toan's vase as well. That is a sign that it is at least late 19th century or early 20th century and wood klin fired."
I have posted a photo of a Qianlong mark and period (1736 to 1795) dish, which is illustrated in my second book. It has no crackle and the glaze runs out evenly at the footrim. Two Kangxi peachbloom brushwashers, also illustrated in the book, have the same features, as do the majority of the copper red wares I had for illustration at the time of writing.
The next comment I have to make, in no way denigrating her book, is that He Li's book "Chinese Ceramics. A New Comprehensive Survey", has been written in the manner of an auction catalogue. But is it comprehensive? It has for example, no Ming burial wares, hardly any 18th and 19th century export wares, very few late Qing Imperial wares, no Nonya wares, no Shiwan stonewares, no Canton famille rose or rose medallion, no Qing provincial wares etc. How can a book be comprehensive with so many omissions?
In making her comment which you quote about red glaze overrunning the foot in 18th century wares, she echoes the opinion of numbers of Chinese dealers I have met, who incorrectly date these as 18th century, rather than 19th or early 20th century.
In "Allen's Authentication of Later Chinese Porcelain", I quoted Bushell, who circa 1895, commenting on a then modern sang-de-boeuf vase, observed "the foot of the vase has had to be ground on the wheel to remove drops of glaze that have run down during the firing. It is impossible to remove all traces of such drops, which usually occur in modern pieces of the kind - never on the old, when the glaze, which is uniformly distributed throughout, always terminates below in a straight line of mathematical regularity, and the foot of the wheel exhibits no marks of the polishing wheel. The glaze in the new pieces is much more fluescent, so that the colour tends to run down, and the upper rim of the vase is often left perfectly white".
Hobson, writing circa 1915, commented: "Even the best, however, of these wares should be recognised by inferiority of form and material, and in the case of red the fluescent glaze will be found in the modern pieces to have overrun the footrim, necessitating grinding of the base rim".
I accept the fact that there is the odd exception to Bushell & Hobson's observations (notably some 18th century flambe glazes), but in the overwhelming majority of cases, they were correct. This should not encourage readers to believe that just because a piece has not been ground, it must be old; but if the excess glaze has been ground or chipped off the base, it may safely be concluded that the item was made after 1865. Many Chinese dealers in particular, consistently misdate these ground vases to the 18th century.
I was unable to find an example of Lee's langyao hexagonal vase in my quick search in my library. The shape does not feature in Li Liangyu's Ch'ing Official and Popular Wares. I did however find a very similar but blue glazed vase, illustrated in a Chinese text, and dated as Guangxu (1875 to 1908), despite bearing a Qianlong (1736 to 1795) reign mark.
Scherzer, who visited Jingdezhen in 1882, said of the Ho factory, the sole remaining manufacturer of the copper red glaze, "this paste fires to a porcelain at a temperature of around 1275 to 1300 degrees centigrade; it then has a pronounced grey colour... and its transparency is practically nil..."
I trust readers find these commentaries interesting and helpful. There are admittedly not many areas in the study of Chinese ceramics that the Chinese "experts" consistently get it wrong; but the red glazes are one of them. It is interesting to note that neither of my two principal Chinese advisers in the dating of the red wares chosen for illustration, shared the traditional Chinese view. I am grateful for the assistance of Lei Rui Chun, former deputy director of the Jingdezhen Museum, and Tai Leung Hop, former manager of the Chinese Arts and Crafts antique department in Hong Kong.