Kraak Dish

Object nr. 13 China, Wanli period (1573-1620) Diameter: 48.7 cm

Private Collection, The Netherlands

Condition Report available

€ 22,500

This object can be viewed in our gallery.

Additional Information

Kraak Porcelain

Kraak, is a Western term for the earliest type of export porcelain made for the foreign trade. Initially, it was mainly intended for the Portuguese and Middle Eastern markets and later for the Dutch. It was originally produced during the Wanli reign (1573-1620) but, due to its popularity, continued to be made up to the end of the 17th century. The tern ‘Kraak’ is thought to have derived from the name for Portuguese ships caracca , which the Dutch famously looted in 1600. These were fully-loaded cargo ships including much porcelain. The exotic far-eastern goods were duly auctioned off by the VOC and raised a fortune. From then blue and white porcelain became very popular in the decoration of 17th century well-to-do Dutch household. Kraak bowls, cups and plates can often be found on still life paintings in the first half of the 17th century, its fragility making it an appropriate vanitas object. It can also be found in Dutch Interior painting of this period as well, as it was deemed a status symbol due to its rarity and high value.

This porcelain was produced in very large numbers, and became one China’s most successful mass produced export goods. To achieve such a large production, short cuts were inevitably made. Lesser pure clay was used, resulting in impurities in the body. Easier, less labour intensive, shapes were made such as bowls and dishes, which could easily be turned and pressed. The glaze was clear and transparent, but did not always adhere well to the body, regularly resulting in flaking on the rim. Grit and sand from the kiln, is often found stuck to underside of the foot rim.  This type of porcelain was also the earliest type of porcelain actually especially made for the West, first for the Portuguese and later the Dutch markets. It was produced in the Wanli Reign (1573-1620), in the latter part of the Ming Dynasty. But it because of its great success as an export product, and popularity in Europe, it continued to be made until the end of the 17th century. It appears in the inventories of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as indische aerde-werck, meaning it came from the East. The term Craequporselein became common usage from around 1675 onwards, and is found in various spellings.

Floris van der Ven