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Porcelain with famille-verte overglaze enamel decoration
Diameter: 20.7 cm (8 1/8 in.); Vessel: 2.5 cm (1 in.)
Severance and Greta Millikin Collection 1964.213
This dish is related to the Kangxi emperor's birthday dishes.
Among the greatest achievements of early Qing porcelain are table wares and display objects decorated with polychrome painting like this pair of dishes. Featuring birds perched in peach trees, the dishes are related to the famous birthday set commissioned for the Kangxi emperor’s sixtieth birthday in 1713. These pieces are more inventive than those in the 1713 set, however, since the unframed ornament is allowed to continue unbroken from the outer to inner surfaces and back out again, thus transforming each vessel into a three-dimensional canvas.
Porcelain decorators in the Qing dynasty broadened the palette of naturalistic colors available to their predecessors with the technique of overglaze painting. They carefully painted designs in low-fire, lead-based glazes on top of undecorated glazed porcelains that had already been fired to the required 1200 degrees Celsius. After the pieces were painted, they were fired a second time to set and fix the glazes to the surface. With sharp images in translucent colors on thin white bodies, porcelains such as these mark the final technical and aesthetic accomplishment of the Chinese ceramic tradition.