About the Collection
This collection was assembled with the help of British ceramics dealer, Raymond Lane, Pat Halfpenny of Stoke on Trent and the British Museum. We were able to identify 325 artists who as students did at least one such painting. Most of the artists were later employed by the ceramics industry.
These are examples of nearly 80 artists.
Porcelain, pronounced POUR suh lihn, is a type of ceramics highly valued for its beauty and strength. It is often called china, or chinaware, because it was first made in China. Porcelain is characterized by whiteness, a delicate appearance, and translucence (ability to let light through). However, porcelain is known primarily as a material for high-quality vases and tableware, as well as for figurines and other decorative objects. The type of porcelain that is used for such purposes produces a bell-like ring when struck.
* Oriental Porcelain
The Chinese probably made the first true porcelain during the Tang dynasty (618-907). During the Song dynasty (960-1279), Chinese emperors started royal factories to produce porcelain for their palaces. Since the 1300’s, most Chinese porcelain has been made in the city of Jingdezhen.
For centuries, the Chinese made the world’s finest porcelain. Collectors regard many porcelain bowls and vases produced during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing dynasty (1644-1912) as artistic treasures. Porcelain makers perfected a famous blue and white underglazed procelain during the Ming period. Painting over the glaze with enamel colors also became a common decorating technique at this time. During the Qing period, the Chinese developed a great variety of patterns and colors and exported porcelain objects to Europe in increasing numbers.
* European Porcelain
As early as the 1100’s, traders brought Chinese porcelain to Europe, where it became greatly admired. However, it was so rare and expensive that only wealthy people could afford it.
As trade with the Orient grew during the 1600’s, porcelain became popular with the general public. The custom of drinking tea, coffee, and chocolate became widespread and created a huge demand for porcelain cups and saucers. European manufacturers responded by trying to make hard-paste porcelain themselves, but for a long time they failed to discover the secret. Nevertheless, some of their experiments resulted in beautiful soft-paste porcelain. The first European soft-paste porcelain was produced in Florence, Italy, about 1575.
By the 1700’s, porcelain manufactured in many parts of Europe was starting to compete with Chinese porcelain. France, Germany, Italy, Czechoslovakia and England became the major centers for European porcelain production.
England is well known as the center for the production of bone china. Before the invention of bone china, the English manufactured fine soft-paste porcelain at Chelsea, Bow, and Derby. Most of this English porcelain was styled after Oriental and Continental designs.
Porcelain painting in Europe differed greatly from porcelain painting in China. Chinese decorators separated each color from the next with a dark outline, but European artists blended colors together with no separating line. In addition, Europeans used decorations purely for their artistic value, but Chinese decorations were symbolic. For example, a pomegranate design symbolized a wish for many offspring because a pomegranate has many seeds.
Kinds of porcelain
* There are three main kinds of porcelain:
(1) hard-paste porcelain, (2) soft-paste porcelain, and (3) bone china. The differences between these types of porcelain are based on the material from which they are made. This material is called the body or paste.
Bone China is basically made by adding bone ash (burned animal bones) to kaolin and petuntse. English porcelain makers discovered this combination of ingredients about 1750, and England still produces nearly all the world’s bone china. Though not as hard as true porcelain, bone china is more durable than soft-paste porcelain. The bone ash greatly increases the translucence of the porcelain.