University Museum and Art Gallery Presents Exhibition of Ming and Qing Dynasty Ceramics and Their Stylistic Influences Abroad

The University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG) of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) presents Objectifying China: Ming and Qing Dynasty Ceramics and Their Stylistic Influences Abroad from December 9, 2017 to February 27, 2018. The exhibition examines how the international trade in ceramics spread styles, forms and manufacturing technologies throughout various regions. These exchanges dramatically altered the course of Asian and European art, producing objects prized for their exotic origins, superior technology and beauty.

Dish with a coat of arms. Genoa, Italy. Ca 1710s. Tin-glazed earthenware. Asian Civilisations Museum.

For thousands of years, China has provided the world with porcelain of the highest quality. Elegant and resistant to heat and moisture, Chinese porcelain of various shapes and colours was eagerly sought—and just as eagerly imitated—by craftsmen across the globe. From the sixth to twentieth centuries, Chinese kilns produced everything from magnificent display pieces for the imperial court to vast quantities of bowls and dishes intended for everyday use, as well as for export to Southeast Asia, Japan, Korea and the Islamic world.

Mounted Bowl. Jingdezhen, China, with mounts added in the Netherlands. Kangxi period, 1662-1722; mounts, late 17th century Porcelain with blue underglaze and ormolu or silver-gilt mounts. Asian Civilisations Museum.

The first Chinese porcelains did not arrive in Europe until the fourteenth century, when small numbers were presented to the ruling houses of Europe via intermediaries in the Middle East. Technologically superior to low-fired European ceramics, they were regarded as objects of rarity and luxury, and were sometimes mounted with silver or gold to emphasise their preciousness.

Pair of custard cups. Jingdezhen, China, Qianlong period, ca. 1790s, Porcelain with blue underglaze and overglaze enamels. Donated in memory of Miss Beryl Robina Wright.

By the early sixteenth century—after Portugal had established trade routes to China—Chinese potters began to produce large amounts of porcelain specifically for export to Europe as part of a larger trade in silk, spices, tea and lacquer. Like all successful inventions, porcelain inspired competition. Kilns in Asia had been producing a wide variety of ceramics in imitation of Chinese wares for centuries, but European attempts to imitate porcelain were unsuccessful until Johann Böttger unlocked the process in Meissen, Germany in 1709. By the end of the century, factories across Europe were producing hybrid works that combined the best features of European and Asian design.

Pair of ko-akae dishes. China (Ming dynasty), Tianqi period (1621-27). Porcelain with overglaze enamels.


Other highlighted exhibits

Saucer. Worcester, England, 1770s. Soft-paste porcelain. Asian Civilisations Museum.

Water pot. Gongyi, China. Tang Dynasty, probably 9th century.


Objectifying China: Ming and Qing Dynasty Ceramics and Their Stylistic Influences Abroad

Exhibition period: 2017/12/9 - 2018/2/27
Location: University Museum and Art Gallery, Hong Kong


University Museum and Art Gallery, Hong Kong

Address: 90 Bonham Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
Opening hours:
Monday - Saturday|9:30am - 6pm
Sunday|1pm - 6pm
Closed on public holidays and university holidays
Enquiries: +852 2241 5500
Admission: Free