Experts Will Gather At
The U.Va. Art Museum For A Symposium On Shunzhi Porcelain, March
January 29, 2003--
In conjunction with the special exhibition “Treasures
from an Unknown Reign: Shunzhi Porcelain,” the University
of Virginia Art Museum, in Charlottesville, is organizing a symposium
to further explore the artistry, culture and history of this little-known
period of Chinese pottery production.
Friday and Saturday, March 21 and 22, international scholars and
major collectors of Chinese porcelain will gather to advance the
understanding of this unusual period of Chinese art.
Michael Butler, noted collector and diplomat, will open
the symposium with a keynote address, "The Discovery of Shunzhi
Porcelain,” during the late afternoon of March 21. His talk
will be followed by a reception and viewing of the exhibit.
symposium continues on Saturday, March 22, with presentations by:
Qianshen Bai, assistant professor of Chinese art at Boston
University, on “Porcelain Books: Print Culture and Porcelain
Production in 17th-Century China”;
Evelyn Rawski, University Professor of History at the University
of Pittsburgh, on "Politics in the Shunzhi Era";
Scott, senior academic consultant, Asian art departments,
Christie’s; and former curator of the Percival David Foundation
of Chinese Art, University of London; on “The Evolving Porcelain
Palette in the Early Qing Period”;
Eichman, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of East
Asian Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, on “Immortals
of the Wine Cup: Daoist and Buddhist Aspects of 17th-Century Chinese
Ho Delbanco, adjunct assistant professor of art history
at Columbia University, on "Landscape Imagery on 17th-Century
Julia B. Curtis, an independent scholar from Williamsburg,
Va., on the change from early literati motifs to porcelain as propaganda
on “Porcelains for a New Dynasty: Imperial Symbols and Propaganda
for the Shunzhi and Kangxi Emperors.”
the essays in the catalog accompanying the exhibition (including
those by Curtis, Bai, and Rawski) break new ground in the study
of Shunzhi porcelains, much research has continued since the catalog’s
completion and will be presented at this symposium. The speakers
will not duplicate their catalog essays.
symposium precedes Asia Week in New York.
symposium is supported by the Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation, the
Gramercy Park Foundation and private donors.
is $100 for museum members; $125 for non-members.
additional information about the symposium and to register, please
contact Jill Hartz, director, University of Virginia Art Museum,
at (434) 243-8854 or by e-mail at jhartz@Virginia.edu. Information
and registration is also available on the museum’s Web page,
on the Shunzhi Period and the Exhibit
period of Chinese porcelain manufacture coincided with the dramatic
political upheaval that followed the collapse of the Ming Dynasty
and the rise of the Manchu-dominated Qing dynasty (1644). Porcelain
had yet to be developed in Europe at the time of this traumatic
epoch in Chinese history.
the 1980s, scholars and researchers in China and the West have neglected
the reign of the child emperor Shunzhi (1644-61, also known as the
first Qing Emperor) because, during his era, exports were reduced
and Imperial porcelain was not produced. A series of smaller exhibitions
and scholarly findings since the early 1980s, validated by Captain
Michael Hatcher’s recovery of 23,000 porcelain wares from
a Chinese shipwreck in the South China Sea, has now enabled scholars
to date these ceramics with accuracy to the Shunzhi Emperor’s
Shunzhi Symposium will examine the “transition” period,
between the fall of the Ming Dynasty in the 1630s and 1640s and
the consolidation of Qing rule of China in 1680,
which is now recognized as a unique period in the history of later
Chinese ceramics. The conquest of China in 1644 by the Manchus,
who founded the new Qing Dynasty, led to civil war and the disruption
of established markets for Chinese porcelain. Imperial symbols no
longer dominated the decoration of these objects. Between the 1630s
and 1680, the Imperial Court was impoverished, preoccupied with
survival or conquest, and unable to assert its dominance over the
kilns at Jingdezhen. Its potters were forced to seek new markets
for their porcelains and indeed found patronage among the literati
(scholar-gentry) and the increasingly affluent merchants and collectors
of Anhui province and the Yangzi valley (the Jiangwan region).
this new market led the artists to adorn porcelains with numerous
decorative motifs from China’s past: iconic figures from history
and literature, deities, floral and faunal motifs, landscapes, and
rhebuses (puns conveying wishes for prosperity, many sons, success
in examinations, long life). These decorative schemes reflected
age-old preoccupations of Chinese society, including the religions
of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. During this period many objects
of great beauty were made, including the style now recognized as
“Shunzhi,” dominated by blue and white and wucai (underglaze
blue and five-color enamel) porcelain.
the floral decoration, identifying the animals and birds as well
as the historical, religious and literary figures on 17th-century
Chinese porcelains, and determining the meanings of these symbols
and motifs to the society for which they were made is a new endeavor,
dating only to the past 20 years. Research is complex and requires
the combined efforts of art historians versed in a variety of disciplines,
including scholars with knowledge of Chinese professional as well
as literati painting, woodblock printing, calligraphy and seal carving;
the technology of porcelain production; and the specialized area
of Chinese export porcelain and the China trade. Art historians
with training in literature specialize in deciphering the narrative
themes (scenes from histories, novels, dramas and opera). Those
with training in religion identify the religious figures and symbols
on the porcelain, while those knowledgeable in the culture of the
literati can explain why specific figures and motifs appear on porcelains
at this particular period. An historian versed in the political,
cultural and economic history of this cataclysmic century can place
the century’s art history in a broad perspective. All of these
areas of exploration will be represented at the symposium.
University of Virginia Art Museum is the only East Coast showing
of Treasures from an Unknown Reign: Shunzhi Porcelain,
the first exhibition to describe the major evolution of painting
and shapes that took place between 1644 and 1662. This major exhibition,
which runs through Sunday, March 23, features more than 80 objects
drawn from public and private collections in England, France and
the United States, including the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the
Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Butler Family Collection,
the largest and most comprehensive collection of 17th-century Chinese
porcelain in the world.
from an Unknown Reign: Shunzhi Porcelain” is organized
and circulated by Art Services International, in Alexandria, Va.,
and generously supported by a grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona
B. Carpenter Foundation. The showing at the U.Va. Art Museum is
made possible with the sponsorship of the Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation.
Additional support has been provided by Lane F. and Christian L.
Becken, Gunilla and James Godfrey, Olivia and Leslie Grayson, Gail
and David Haines, Suzanne and Frederic Berry and Felicia Rogan.
Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298