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Chinese Ceramics: Discover the Most Beautiful Glazes Ever Produced

Guest post by Judith Dowling, Consultant, Asian Works of Art at Skinner

Chinese ceramics | Sung dynasty

Lot 664: Ch’ing pai ware small covered jar, vivid blue glaze on buff body, molded flower on lid and ribbed body, Est. $200-300

The news is all over the art world: the Chinese art market is red hot. In the past year, Chinese paintings both old and new, porcelains, jades, and many other fine pieces have set new auction records, often selling for millions of dollars. And the trend shows no signs of slowing.

Where did this trend come from? Wealthy Chinese, seeking the best and most coveted pieces for their collections, are searching around the world for art. They’re buying from dealers and going to auctions in Boston, New York, London, Hong Kong, Beijing, and even smaller country auctions. They’re creating a volatile market which leaves us all wondering what will happen next.

How do you buy and compete in such a market? It’s easy: buy what others are not buying and go against the trend. Choose something that is quiet now, but could easily gain popularity in the coming months or years.

I think Sung dynasty (960-1279) ceramics is a collecting area deserving of more exploration. The quiet, subtle beauty and simple, elegant shapes of these pieces appeal to the urban middle classes, scholars, and connoisseurs of fine ceramics.

Artisans created a wide variety of fine ceramics during the Sung dynasty, offering many choices to the collector of Chinese ceramics. It is not only the beauty that makes these pieces compelling to a collector, but also the high technical achievement, inventiveness, and quality of production that offers the collector a great deal to satisfy his curiosity.

In my opinion, some of the most beautiful glazes ever produced belong to Sung ceramics: the gorgeous, blue of Ch’ing Pai, the rich, thick blue of Chun, the blue-green celadon of Lung Chuan, the persimmon of Yao Chou, the black of Tzu Chou, the splashed amber of Chi Chou and the pure, white luster of Ting.

Skinner’s December Asian Works of Art auction in Boston, from December 1st through 3rd 2011, will offer over 150 exquisite pieces from each of these kilns. I hope you will be as moved by their beauty as I am.

Which of these ceramics would you most love to take home? Where would you put it in your house?


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