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Need Advice - Qianjiang Porcelain

by John WU
(Singapore )

Hi There,

I am new to porcelain collection.

For some reasons, I am very attracted to Qianjiang porcelain. I know that Qianjiang ceramics painting is a term used to describe a type of overglaze enameled ware which was very popular during the Late Qing/Early Republican Period.

I would appreciate someone familiar with Qianjiang porcelain can advise me the following:

- is it worth (in terms of value) keeping Qianjiang porcelain as it is is typically defined as vintage rather than antique?
- how do we assess a good piece of Qianjiang porcelain if I couldn't afford pieces by accomplished artists?

It seems to me that porcelain from the Ming and Qing era are very popular amongst collectors (such as blue&white, famille verte, famille rose etc).

Advice will be appreciated. Thanks.

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by: peter

By 1930 Qianjiang was virtually extinct and replaced by the new fencai style. All Qianjiang items made later are copies, basically. I don't think there are many sold on Ebay, at least I cannot remember seeing any. Mine mostly come from local dealers, but I found them without especially looking for them.
With the older copies the have sometimes written whom they have copied, and certain decorations seem to have been painted by several different Qianjiang painters as if it were a standard style. Often it is possible to tell from the porcelain they are painted on, whether they are from the late Qing dynasty, and often the items are signed and even dated.

Need Advice - Qianjiang Porcelain
by: John WU

Hi Peter

Thank you for the enlightening information.

Like you, I prefer earlier pieces where the painting were executed with light tone enamels, which are powdery in appearance. I presume these are "pure" Qianjiang paintings, (visually soft and subdued to the eyes) as compared to later paintings, which were characterised by more vibrant colors being used.

As a budding collectors, I am open to either style as long as it fits my budget and as you rightly mentioned, collect what appeals to him/her aesthetically.

Honestly, I am finding it hard to kick start my collection because good Qianjiang pieces are hard to come by in my country. I tried looking for pre 1920 to 1930 (which I thought will be easier to find) but so far not much luck.

Do you have any advice on this? I have seen a lot of pieces from eBay but is wary of reproduction especially modern ones.

I guess After so much reading and research, this "addiction" amounts to nothing if I have no pieces in my cabinet to show for.

Once again, thanks.

Qianjiang porcelain
by: peter

Depends what you consider antique. If you follow the version offered on the homepage of this site, all Qianjiang is antique, if you follow the 100 year rule that is used by some countries as a legal definition, then still most of it is antique, but not all. How come it is vintage... Qianjiang porcelain started to be made about mid 19th century and florished in the Guangxu reign. Toward the end of the latter the so-called new fencai became popular and many Qianjiang painters moved on to that, but the style continued to be used until the early republic.
You could say Qianjiang is Chinese style paintings on a porcelain substrate (instead of paper or silk). I prefer the ones of the earlier period, when the colors were still relatively soft, not painted in too strong colors. From a monetary view, currently Qianjiang, like any late Qing and early republic porcelain is still affordable. I guess not so in a few years, as Chinese collectors gobble everything up, even early republic and later porcelains, at the moment.
Currently it is still possible to find Qianjiang from renowned painters (except perhaps those few that were part of the 'eight friends of Zhushan', which are difficult to get for their own reason.

In my view a collector should collect what appeals to him/her aesthetically, investment is another matter.
Ming blue and white (minyao) can be pretty unappealing, except if it is top class, and then it is very expensive, while Qing porcelain gives a wider choice for a limited budget. Personally, I view export porcelain as better, quality-wise, than porcelain made for China's domestic use, except the imperial porcelain, of course.

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