In June 1644, the Manchu conquerors of China entered Beijing and named a five-year-old boy to be the Shunzhi emperor, the first ruler of the Qing dynasty. This groundbreaking book and exhibition is the first to focus on porcelains from Shunzhi's reign (1644-61), which until recently have been little known and studied, as have other seventeenth-century ceramics from the great kiln center in Jingdezhen.
New research, publications, and the coming to light of more high-quality dated pieces from the Shunzhi era have forced a re-examination of the so-called Transitional Period (1620-83). This catalogue and the travelling exhibition it documents brings together for the first time a collection of outstanding porcelain vessels from the Shunzhi reign, combined with recent advances in knowledge of the art and history of the early Qing. This book includes 87 examples of Jingdezhen porcelains, comprising a wide variety of types, decorative styles, and subjects, and including a number with dates in the Shunzhi era. The texts by leading scholars and a collector of seventeenth-century ceramics shed much new light on ceramics and their historical context. Six thematic essays and entries for each work discuss the evolution of porcelain and their markets during the period, new insights from the study of decorative subjects and calligraphy, the history of the Shunzhi reign, and the collecting of seventeenth-century porcelains in the West. New findings include the identification of many of the animals, plants, and scenes from history and literature painted on the porcelain.This book is an important addition to the libraries of those interested in the effects of politics on art, and collectors and students of porcelain and Chinese art, especially of the Qing dynasty.
Published by Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia in association with the University of Washington Press, Seattle and London, 2002
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