— ABOUT THE COLLECTION —

 

The Jie Rui Tang Collection was formed over a 35 year period. Unlike most Chinese porcelain collections, it consists exclusively of one period of production, namely the Kangxi period. The decision to concentrate on just that particular period came from a number of factors. The first was the belief that the Kangxi period represented a golden age in porcelain production, but not just for its technical skill. While the sixty years of the Kangxi reign saw the most technical advancements of porcelain production of any other period, it was more that it represented the last great expression of the three thousand year old Han Chinese culture in porcelain.

Of course Kangxi was a Manchu and not Han Chinese, but he and his court adopted the Han Chinese aesthetic and the interest in Han Chinese culture. Hence, the porcelain production was a continuous evolution from earlier Ming styles and themes, but with even more widespread expression of Han culture, history and literature than in earlier Ming examples.

 

The Kangxi period was also the last to rely on natural metalic oxide glazes for its overglaze enamels with the so-called foreign colors appearing only very late in the reign. These oxide glazes gave the porcelain painting a depth and jewel like quality never equalled again. In addition, the underglaze cobalt blue was of a very vibrant sapphire tone, yet to be equalled. Further, the quality of the painting on porcelain was very free and painterly. The brushwork was very fluid and the painting style very loose and dynamic. During later periods the painting became more stylized and much stiffer.

 

Of course another major reason to concentrate on the Kangxi period was the availability of material. It was a very prolific period, with a tremendous level of production for domestic and export wares. The Imperial Court was also a very large buyer of porcelain and took a detailed interest in its production. Although the imperial kilns were rebuilt during the Kangxi period after they were burned in the Rebellion of the Three Feudatories, it is unclear how much of what is Kangxi mark and period actually comes from those kilns and how much comes from the private kilns on special order. However, what one can say is that some of the finest pieces of porcelain during that period came from private kilns and do not have Kangxi marks. This changed during later periods where the best pieces were more likely to have the imperial mark and the private kilns were not likely utilized much for imperial orders.

 

During the latter part of the Wanli reign of the Ming dynasty, the court was struggling financially due to wars and famines and patronage of the imperial kilns was minimal. The result was that many private kilns were expanded or created and hired the best talent. During the so-called Transitional Period, which followed, there were very few imperial orders and little export due to the ongoing wars, and the main buyers from the private kilns were the literati. They were a very discerning audience who appreciated high quality. They also enjoyed literati themes and stories and so catering to that demand the private kilns produced sophisticated pieces with historical or literati themes and with a very high standard of painting. The Kangxi period saw the continuation of those high standards, but this time with significant imperial patronage, a growing prosperous merchant class who sought the to emulate the literati taste, and the re-opening of export trade. The result was a great deal of technical innovation and a tremendous increase in production. With that came a great deal of creativity in the shapes, painting styles and themes on the porcelain. It is interesting to note that many of these themes reflecting literati taste declined in the late Kangxi period as merchant taste, Imperial taste and export taste dominated the production. 

 

关于洁蕊堂藏品

洁蕊堂的收藏历程经历了35余年。与许多中国瓷器收藏不同的是,它只拥有清代康熙这一个时期的瓷器。洁蕊堂之所以选择仅仅关注这一朝的藏品主要有几点原因:首先,康熙时期的瓷器生产代表着中国瓷器生产的黄金时期,这不仅仅是因为它的生产技术。60年的康熙统治时期,其在陶瓷生产技术上的进步胜过历史上任何一朝,它更是三千年汉民族文化的杰出表达。

     当然,康熙皇帝是满族人,但他本人及清朝廷对汉文化有极大的兴趣,他们精通汉文化,拥有着汉文化的艺术审美观,所以从明早期以后,瓷器生产的风格和主题就一直在发展,而且康熙时期的瓷器对汉文化表现之宽广,对汉历史及文学的诠释,与明早期的产品相比有过之而无不及。

     康熙一朝也是历史上最后一个使用自然金属氧化物作为釉上彩材料的王朝。从康熙晚期开始,外国彩料进入中国。这些自然金属氧化物釉彩使瓷器的颜色表达层次有深度,并有珠宝一般的质感,后朝难以比拟。另外,青花呈现一种艳丽的宝石蓝,也是后朝无法赶超的。最后,瓷器上的绘画风格与绘画质量具有很高的美术造诣,自由不受辖制;笔触灵活,富有动感。而随后朝代的风格则更加程式化,略显拘谨。

     当然,另一个注重康熙时期瓷器的收藏的原因是康熙瓷器在市场上的普及。康熙是一个瓷器多产的时期,无论是在国内还是海外,都有相当的数量。清朝廷是瓷器的一个主要消费群体之一,对于瓷器的生产也特别讲究。清代时期的三藩之乱使官窑毁于一旦,直到康熙年间才重建。所以康熙官窑款的瓷器有多少是来自官窑本身,多少是官家在民窑的定制,难以说明。但是有些没有康熙款的精品的确来自于民窑。这种现象在后朝少见,后朝最好的精品基本上都有官窑款,而且基本不通过民窑来定制官家的瓷器。

明万历后期,由于战乱及饥荒,朝廷财政告急,拨给官窑业的资金极少。因此许多民窑得以聘请最好的工匠,逐渐发展起来。在过渡期期间,由于战乱,官家订单和外销订单都很少,所以民窑的主要客源为民间的文人学士。这群人对瓷器的眼光和质量要求很高,他们喜爱文人学士主题风格及故事。为了满足市场需要,民窑制造出许多精美的、以历史、文人学士主题的瓷器,这些瓷器在绘画水平上也有很高水平。康熙时期将这一风格继续,再加上政府资助,越来越多的商人阶级也开始追求文人学士的喜好,同时海外贸易之门重新打开。结果造就了康熙瓷业在烧制技艺上的创新以及生产数量的提高。这一时期,瓷器生产在器型、绘画风格和主题方面也不断创新。而在康熙后期,这种文人学士喜好的风格和主题却逐渐减少,而商人阶级的审美、宫廷的审美以及海外贸易的审美统治了瓷器的生产。