The Imperial Porcelain Wares of the Late Qing Dynasty

Kwan, Sin Ming Simon 關善明
Supervisor: Mr. S.C. Chuang

This thesis is devoted to the study of Qing ceramics from the reign of Daoguang (1821-1850) to the reign of Xuantong (1909-1911), covering a period of approximately ninety years. During this period, the ceramic art of China was dominated by the work of the Imperial Porcelain Factory. This Factory was responsible for the production of practically all the ceramic wares required by the imperial court. The Imperial Porcelain Factory of the late Qing period, or the “imperial Kilns” as it was commonly called, was located in Jingdezhen, near Zhushan . Two versions of the annual production catalogues of the Factory are available to-day. One belongs to the reign of Tongzhi (1862-1874) and the other one belongs to the reign of Guangxu (1875-1908). Items mentioned in these two catalogues have been almost completely identified and are illustrated in this thesis. Ceramic wares produced by the Imperial Porcelain Factory, that is, the imperial wares, may be classified into three main categories; ritual vessels, domestic wares and special items. Designs for all these wares were prepared at the imperial palace under the direct control of the Emperor and the Department of Works. Drawings and wooden models were made in Beijing and sent to Jingdezhen from time to time. Sample pieces were made by the Factory and returned to the palace for approval and ordering. The Imperial Porcelain Factory of the late Qing period was a fully equipped establishment capable of producing ceramic wares from the raw clay stage to the fully decorated clay bodies ready for firing. However, the actual work of the firing of the imperial wares was carried out by private kilns in Jingdezhen on a consignment basis. Firing kilns for these wares were the egg-shaped kilns of Jingdezhen and the firing material was the wood of pine trees. Decoration and design of the imperial wares of late Qing were substantially based on the designs of the Ming and early Qing period. However, there were other innovative designs and decorative techniques developed during this period. Finally, almost every one of the imperial wares of this period carries an imperial mark. As these marks are identifiable as being written by a very limited number of mark-writers at the Factory, they serve as an important guide for the authentication of the imperial porcelain wares of the late Qing dynasty.

Hua Yen, 1682-1756: His Life and Art

Tsang, Ka Bo 曾家寶
Supervisor: Mr. S.C. Chuang

Hua Yen lived from the latter part of the seventeenth century to about the mid-eighteenth century, a period in which the newly established Ch'ing dynasty strengthened its political and economic stability. In art, the  Manchu rulers endorsed the conservative literati style. However, a spirit of striving for an unique means of self-expression, already prevalent in works of late Ming i-min (loyalist) artists (notably the "Four Monks", Ch' en Hung-shou) and Kung Hsien, among others), culminated in a blossoming of diversified styles practised by progressive painters living in Yang-chou, the economic and cultural centre of eighteenth-century China. Traditionally, Hua Yen has been regarded as a conservative artist. Since the Republic, however, art historians occasionally have reclassified Hua Yen as one of the so-called "Eight Eccentric Masters of Yang-chou". The aim of this paper is to give an in-depth stylistic analysis o the art of Hua Yen in order to evaluate his posit on in the history of later Chinese painting. Until lately, the life of Hua Yen has been treated only summarily. The recent discovery of the Hua family genealogical record helps tremendously in shedding light on crucial factors that shaped Hua Yen's life and personality. Chapter I discusses mainly Hua Yen' s biography. This includes, in addition to the problem of his chronology, his family background, life history, travelling activities, personality, as well as his religious and philosophical thoughts. Chapter II deals with Hang-chou and Yang-chou, two important cities where Hua Yen spent the better part of his life. Also introduced are major literary and artistic figures with whom Hua Yen became acquainted in these two places. In an endeavour to present a comprehensive study of Hua Yen's art, Chapter III begins with a brief survey of the artistic atmosphere in the early Ch'ing dynasty. This is followed by a consideration of some of the major stylistic sources among Hua Yen's oeuvre, and an analysis of the fundamental aspects pertaining to his individual style, namely: his versatile treatment of subject matter, compositional designs, and painting techniques. Also included are some interesting examples of forgeries which serve to illustrate the problem of authenticity among paintings by Hua Yen. Discussed in Chapter IV is the influence of Hua Yen on posterity, that may be judged by his large following in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In conclusion, various appraisals of Hua Yen's art by notable biographers, art critics, collectors and artists are examined .. Through their evaluations, it is clear that the art of Hua Yen has won greater appreciation since his death. With the passage of time, in fact, the popularity of Hua Yen has even surpassed most of. his more famous Yang-chou contemporaries. Moreover, Hua Yen's eclectic taste sets his style apart from those of the "Eight Eccentric Masters". He should be regarded, therefore, as one of the representative figures of the "Yang-chou School", but not as one of the "Eight Eccentric Masters of Yang-chou".

A Study of Shiwan Pottery

Scollard, Fredrikke Skinsnes
Supervisor: Mr. S.C. Chuang

This study of Shiwan pottery takes a comprehensive approach to an understanding of the life and pottery products of the small town of Shiwan in Foshan Municipality, 26 miles from Guangzhou. In addition to written references, the study has required assessment of two major bodies of information: 1) historical and archaeological studies as carried out in Guangdong Province over the last 30 years, and 2) classification and oral tradition as preserved in Hong Kong. The study is divided into three major portions: the early history and archaeology of the region (Chapter II), the pottery products in the Ming and Qing periods (Chapter III), and modernization in Shiwan after 1949 (Chapter IV). Some technical aspects concerning kilns and materials are included in a fifth chapter. In the first portion all existing materials regarding Shiwan, including history, archaeology, literary reference and legend, are put into a chronological framework. Archaeological materials reveal that the region has produced pottery since Neolithic times and that the beginning of continuous production of pottery daily use wares in areas neighbouring Shiwan began in the Tang Dynasty. Shiwan remained primarily a producer of daily utensils. Art produce developed almost as an afterthought in the spare time hobbies of the hard working potters, which developed artistically in its own right along with the flourishing of Foshan as a city of handicraft art. The second portion of the study discusses the pottery products. Attention is given to the daily utensils since they continued to provide Shiwan's main livlihood, a fact which the potters say is very important in the unique esthetic of their art pottery. The main problems confronting the early wares are classification and dating, probably related to various migrations of potter families. The study draws primarily on the experience of Hong Kong in these matters and presents preliminary results of a thermoluminescent dating project which has been initiated in cooperation with Australian National University. The esthetic of Shiwan art, biographies of the artists and illustration of the marks they used present both a descriptive appreciation of the art that is Shiwan, and scrutiny of materials relating to authenticity. A special section is devoted to the specialties of the flower pot guilds whose long ceramic rooftop friezes depicted Foshan's theatrical arts, freezing a colourful moment in history. Modernization in Shiwan is treated in the third portion of the study which includes an examination of Shiwan's re-organization and modernization in the context of overall developments in China and the major resulting changes in its art. A number of contemporary potter family trees demonstrate a strong family tradition. Chapter V diagrams the development of Shiwan kiln technology and treats some technical and descriptive aspects of Shiwan biscuits, glazes and production techniques. It is the conclusion of this thesis that Shiwan art embodies an artistic expression of the soul of the people of South China, whose principles bear considerable potential for all potters.