Pair of Immortals

Object nr. 928 China, 19th Century c. 1880-1890's Height: 37,2 cm

Private Collection, Paris France

Condition Report available

€ 9,500

This object can be viewed in our gallery.

Additional Information

Famille Verte Enamels

The possibilities of painting with coloured enamels, so successfully developed during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), were exploited to the fullest in the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1912), when what were essentially the same low-fired enamels were used with such authority that the polychrome-decorated porcelains outshone all others of the time. The stellar polychrome decoration of the Kangxi period (1662 - 1722), the Famille Verte palette of enamels, takes its name from several distinctive shades of green almost invariably present in the colour scheme.

Famille Verte enamels are brightly coloured and translucent and are applied fairly over darker outlines and details. In addition to the various greens, the set of colours includes yellow and aubergine; a rather flat (and almost opaque) coral toned iron-red; white (an effect achieved by allowing the pure body to show through an almost colourless enamel); and black (a composite colour consisting of mat brownish black pigment covered with green, aubergine, or clear enamel). The blue enamel in this assortment of colours is different from the Ming Dynasty turquoise-tinted blue enamel; it is more violet or royal blue in tone.

Like their Ming antecedents these translucent ‘Famille Verte’ enamels appropriately named ying-ts’ai (hard colours) by the Chinese, did not permit much gradation in colour and the effect of shading had to be relegated to finely pencilled lines in the preliminary drawing.

Famille Verte enamels, were either painted directly onto unglazed pre-fired bodies, known as enamelling on the biscuit, or painted over a high-fired clear glaze. In both instances, the decorated porcelains, which already had been high-fired to maturity, were given a second firing, this time only to the lower temperatures of the muffle kiln required to fuse the enamels.

Floris van der Ven