European porcelain with a Chinese influence

A delftware candlestick from the 19th century.Photo by Huo Chengju.

Meissen porcelain, Wedgwood jasperware, Sèvres porcelain, Capodimonte porcelain, and Staffordshire figurines and porcelain shoes: these are the highlights of European porcelain. Now Shenzheners can see all of them in an exhibition at Shenzhen Museum through the end of May this year.

Titled “East Wind Blowing Westwards,”the exhibition features 176 European porcelains from the Shanghai History Museum. The exhibits include exquisite porcelains produced during the 18th and 19th centuries in major production areas in Europe, such as Meissen in Germany, Wedgwood and Staffordshire in Britain, Sèvres in France, and Capodimonte in Italy.

  Laszlo Parakovits Parakovits (R), his wife Sunny Sun (L) and their son Arthur Parakovits at the Shenzhen Museum on Thursday (April 15). Photo by Huo Chengju.

All exhibits were donated by Canadian collector Laszlo Parakovits and his Chinese wife Sunny Sun to the Shanghai History Museum in 2008.

“My wife and I have visited many museums on the Chinese mainland in recent years but we have found few items of European porcelain on display in any of them, so we decided to donate some of our European porcelain collections to the Shanghai History Museum two years ago,” Parakovits, 45, said at the exhibition’s opening ceremony Thursday.

Titled “East Wind Blowing Westwards,”the exhibition features 176 European porcelains from the Shanghai History Museum. The exhibits include exquisite porcelains produced during the 18th and 19th centuries in major production areas in Europe, such as Meissen in Germany, Wedgwood and Staffordshire in Britain, Sèvres in France, and Capodimonte in Italy.

All exhibits were donated by Canadian collector Laszlo Parakovits and his Chinese wife Sunny Sun to the Shanghai History Museum in 2008.

“My wife and I have visited many museums on the Chinese mainland in recent years but we have found few items of European porcelain on display in any of them, so we decided to donate some of our European porcelain collections to the Shanghai History Museum two years ago,” Parakovits, 45, said at the exhibition’s opening ceremony Thursday.

 

A Capodimonte figurine from the 20th century. Photo by Huo Chengju.

“Today, in Western countries and in China itself, much is made of the degree to which China now copies many things that are Western,” said Parakovits.

“However, there exists a powerful chapter in the relationship between China and the West that deserves to be told for what it can teach the West as well as the Chinese people,” he said.

“What is less well known among Chinese people is the deep effect that Chinese porcelain had on the West and how it shaped the economy of European countries far remote from China,” he said.

European trade with China expanded rapidly during the 17th century. Chinese porcelain was extremely popular among the wealthy ruling classes. Only the wealthy could afford even simple blue and white bowls, regarded as the ultimate luxury product.

So it was no surprise that Europeans from the Netherlands, France, Germany and England all tried desperately to copy the Chinese.

A Wedgwood patterned water jug from the 19th century. Photo by Huo Chengju.

The earliest copies of Chinese pieces are not porcelain but earthenware-type items known as “delftware.”

In 1708, in Meissen, Germany, a scientist successfully developed the first European porcelain. The French and English were quick to follow and by the middle of the 18th century there was a huge expansion in the porcelain manufacturing business across Europe.

“All the early European porcelain tried to copy the decoration of the Chinese. Even much later, a famous Chinese pattern, known as ‘blue willow,’ was still being copied,” Parakovits said.

The porcelain industry became one of Europe’s most important from the 18th to the mid-19th century.

As time passed, the early copies gave way to original patterns as craftsmen throughout the major European nations perfected their techniques.

“There are many lessons to be learned from the development of the porcelain art and industry in Europe over this time,” Parakovits said.

“The Chinese can take great pride in knowing that without their inspiration, Europe would never have developed porcelain to such a high art form,” he said.

“The early trade between China and Europe clearly shows that both sides can benefit and that there are many unforeseen positive developments that can occur when people exchange ideas and technology.”

A French majolica faience plate. Photo by Huo Chengju.

Staffordshire porcelain shoes. Photo by Huo Chengju.

All search results