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Celadon teapot with famille rose

by Graaberg
(Stockholm, Sweden)

I'm puzzled by this teapot in rococo style regarding it's age.

The body appears to be joined by an upper and a lower half (sphere)
(this I find very strange).
The inside straining holes at the spout are coarsly done.
The handle is noticeably leaning to one side.
It's a six-sided melon form in celadon glaze with flowers in famille rose and delicate decor in gold an finely painted red lines here and there and around the mouth.
The lid is missing.
It's a charity shop bargain so I don't expect anything really, but here in Sweden you can actually find 18'th century Chinese porcelain (at rare occasions) in places like that.

Much obliged

Mr Ulf Graaberg, Stockholm, Sweden

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Many questions to tackle
by: Graaberg

Hello and thanks for all the additional information.
I will certainly take the three specific questionmarks with me in what further investigation I could do.
Thanks again and all the best
Mr Ulf Graaberg

by: peter

Your collection are all very standard export items, as I see.
I still would recommend to keep an open mind to the problems involved with this teapot. There are some differences with regular items:
1. Red decoration on the spout and the red line patterns beside the handle.
(Comment: your images don't show any closeup of these, but the red color used, although not entirely impossible, was only common from the mid-19th century onward. The line decoration pattern behind is an altogether different painting style and I am yet to see any porcelain item which has such beside the handle attachment. Usually, strangely placed decorations are trying to hide something. Have you seen one decoration like this before? Why is it there? Such things always have a good reason. The flower decoration seems to point to Yongzheng or Qianlong, but these red things are just inconceivable on period items, that is mixed with a fencai decoration of the flowers.)
2. The handle shows a break at the attachment point of the top.
(Comment: if it was mended, there are two possibilites: in recent times with glue, or with glaze (refired at a low temperature). Did you try sticking a needle into the area at the handle base? Is it soft or hard?)
3. The pictures don't show the holes to the spout clearly? So are there seven, then, and are the all equally shaped/round, in size?
(Comment: how do you explain the missing glaze around the holes? Porcelain glaze is very hard and strong, it doesn't fall off by itself, normally. But this could be if the holes were made later. You mention they are coarsely done, but the holes are made "before" firing during production, when the clay is still workable. And there should be glaze around them, if they were made in the regular way. If there were no glaze at the time of firing, the liquefied hot glaze would flow and cover at least part of the exposed clay.)

Too many questions for my taste, to say this is a normal item. Please just keep an eye on the above three points, and that a well-done repair is not necessarily obvious, especially if the item was fired once more, later. Maybe you find a good explanation for these. And, in case you know a restorer, you could ask if he/she thinks whether the item has been modified/mended at some time or another.

I forgot to mention the handle. If the handle is the original one, then being slightly at an angle is normal. Due to a certain reason which I will not mention in detail, generally the handles of pots needed to be attached at a slight angle. That means the top point of attachment of the handle would not be exactly above the bottom attachment, before firing. There is occurring a slight horizontal shift during the firing in the kiln. In a normal case the handle would be vertical only after firing.

Detective work
by: Graaberg

Thank you for your comments. I'm going to try to structure the leads so far.

The five holes to the spout are as "crude" as the three holes in a geniune 18th century teapot I posess. Compered to these the seven holes in my ca 1800 teapots look drilled. Evolution?

The spout and handle are definetely original. You may notice a crack all around the top end of the handle, but it's under the glaze and seems a production flaw. I see these European rococo-style additions to a chinese body around 1750 in books and by googling.

The finely painted red lines I see on plates, cups and saucers I've collected of the Qianlong period. So I thought it rather pointed to that period.

What I suspected was that this was a tempting blend of decores produced for export around 1900 since there is som much going on.

You are welcome to visit my indeed humble and small collection of little monetary value at:

Again, truly grateful for your time and interest.

Mr Ulf Graaberg

by: peter


This could indeed be an 18th century teapot. But there are some points that do not allow me to positively confirm that.
Basically, I have too little experience with Chinese export teapots made in the European style. I know more about the regular Chinese teapots.
This said, that the pot was made in two parts is not strange at all. To the contrary, if it were made in one piece it might not be Chinese. Basically, all items (including vases, jars, pots) were made in at least two parts. In later porcelain the traces of this were mostly removed before firing. With earlier porcelain this was often more clearly visible, especially on the inside.

The decoration looks like a fencai decoration of the 18th century. But there are some doubts because of the red decoration on the spout and besides the handle, that type of red decoration would rather point to the 19th century or later. I have never seen such a handle and spout on Chinese porcelain; are they original, or were they attached later because of damage?
There is another question, namely the holes for the spout. I can see that there are two or three holes. That would basically point to a teapot of the late 19th century.
Early teapots had only one hole, then, towards the end of the Qing dynasty there were two made, sometimes; they increased to five or six in the 20th century.
I suspect spout and/or handle might be from a different period than the body, due to a repair. To tell exactly if a later repair is involved, a hands-on inspection would be required. It would be necessary to inspect the actual item, I'm afraid. You could try inspecting the glaze of these with a magnifier, to see if they are exactly the same.

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