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Today is October 22, 2014. The Museum is open from 10 am – 5 pm.

Chinese Porcelain Lecture: Robert Mowry

February 20, 2014, 11 am – 12 pm
Metcalf Auditorium
  • 2005.110

Deep, Circular Charger with Peony Décor
Chinese; Ming dynasty, Yongle period (1403–1424)
Blue‑and‑white ware: porcelain with decoration painted in underglaze cobalt blue
Harvard Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum
2005.110

Robert D. Mowry, longtime Asian Art curator at the Harvard Art Museum and currently a senior consultant on Asian Art for Christie’s, speaks about “A Revolution in Taste: Chinese Blue-and-White Porcelains of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. Chinese blue-and-white imperial porcelains of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) are widely regarded as the finest ever produced. This illustrated slide lecture will trace the development of blue-and-white ware from its beginnings in the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) to its maturation early in the Ming. All the basic elementsnecessary for producing blue-and-white ware were already in place at Chinese kilns by the end of the Song dynasty (960-1279): hard-paste porcelain (in the form of qingbai ware), well-developed techniques for painting decoration in underglaze slips, particularly in iron-brown slips (in the form of Cizhou and Jizhou wares), and knowledge of cobalt and its possibilities for decorating ceramics (in the form of Tang-dynasty, lead-glazed wares). Although potters had experimented with blue-and-white ware late in the Song period, it took the social and commercial changes introduced in the Yuan dynasty to bring such cobalt-embellished wares to the fore and to foster their development. It then took the imperial patronage that began in the closing years of the fourteenth century, early in the Ming dynasty, to elevate blue-and-white ware to the luxury status that made it desirable the world over. In addition to tracing the evolution and development of blue-and-white ware from Yuan to Ming, the lecture will explore similarities between Yuan and Ming porcelains and contemporaneous lacquers, metalwork, and woodblock-printed books, just as it will contrast those ceramics with the monochrome-glazed wares of the preceding Song dynasty and with the exquisitely painted porcelains of the succeeding Qing dynasty (1644-1911). In addition, the lecture will introduce something of the historical and cultural contexts that gave rise to those porcelains. Free and open to the public. Presented by the Pottery and Porcelain Club.”