Precious colours of the empire

Feb 21, 2021 | Art Word, Authentications & attributions, Discoveries, Publications

The recent discovery of a very rare Chinese porcelain reminds us of another remarkable discovery for Eastern art and technique in which we were involved.

A few days ago, thanks to a search started in 2014, a RU bowl belonging to the Song dynasty was identified within the collection of the Dresden museum. A similar specimen was auctioned, and sold, in 2017, to the record price of 37.7 million dollars.

For the exclusive use of the imperial court, the colour of these porcelain is a particular blue shade made possible by the presence of agate. Poetically it is described as “blue of the sky in a clearing of the clouds after the rain”.

The subject of the discovery made by working together with S.T.Art-Test and the scholar Riccardo Montanari,  on an object of oriental origin too, was also colour, and its trade and use in the East.

The original aim of the research was to demonstrate how non-invasive investigations could be alternatives to micro-destructive ones and diriment in the authentication of oriental porcelain. Thus, favouring non-invasive diagnostics, the study featured a polychrome enameled Mukozuke porcelain, also very rare, produced in the Kan’ei period.

In particular, the analyses investigated blue and yellow pigments. The yellow surprisingly turned out to be Naples Yellow, a novelty for Japanese production. A somewhat destabilizing discovery.

But this data was crossed with historical sources, and it was possible to understand how the Jesuits imported, in their mission to Japan, the Renaissance technique of majolica decoration and therefore the use of this yellow pigment.

Only later, did the Japanese potters transfer this know-how to their Chinese colleagues.

Another step in the endless journey of research. Here is the article for those wishing to read more


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