Framed Chinese export porcelain plaque, a rare example of a ceramic plaque used as wall decoration, which is decorated en grisaille (or encre de chine or ink color) in various shades of black and gray enamels. The scene is of a riverscape with two men fishing from a boat and three others poised on top of a rocky outcrop with a hut behind, and a painted frame-like border around the its edges; by varying the intensity of the black enamels, the Chinese artisan achieved a painterly effect.. Chinese enamelers developed ink-color decoration as a method of reproducing print images on porcelain for the western market. Dominated by black enamels and washes, ink-color decoration was first produced in the 1730s and remained popular throughout the 18th century. Often period documents refer to this decoration as "pencil'd," reflecting its use of fine brush strokes and black color. The print source for this plaque is currently unknown, but it closely resembles works by Jan van Goyen (1596-1656) of Leiden and The Hague. Through the 1630s and 1640s, van Goyen specialized in landscapes, particularly river views with foggy reflections and atmospheric cloud effects; he developed a format of simplicity done in tonal nuances of ocher, browns, greys, and earthen greens, where the low horizon line emphasizes an expansive distance beyond. Plaques of this type do not appear to have been made in large numbers, and may be private commissions brought back for individuals. The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns a related plaque with a different scene; and a van Goyan sketch of a River Landscape in black chalk, grey and brown wash with a very similar compostion to the scene on this tile, which is one of a large group of sketches made in the early 1650s when the artist drew more than he painted. The Peabody Essex Museum possesses two plaques acquired from the collection of Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland, featuring a foxhunting scene and a Dutch-style landscape. Theese plaques are examples of how early Cantonese workshops, particularly those doing overglaze enamelling of porcelain brought from Jingdezhen, were able to modify native styles of depiction to western subjects and werstern tastes. The wooden frame, painted black with a gilt interior border and carved dentil molding, is original to the plaque. The frame’s mortise and tenon joint overlapping in the back typifies Chinese frame construction techniques.
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