We aren’t the first, and we certainly won’t be the last… for decades, antique dealers have been converting porcelain vases into lamps. These lamps give new life to the vases and they fit in seamlessly with so many different interiors whether traditional or modern.
Today, we are going to look into the history of a very popular form of vase that works brilliantly as a lamp: Canton porcelain. This broad term refers to the ceramics produced in Canton, the westernised name for Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, which was the main source of Chinese export to European markets from the eighteenth century onward.
Typically, the porcelain was manufactured and fired at kilns in Ching-Te Chen and then brought to Canton for decoration. One of the specific decorative elements that features on Canton porcelain is the central panel, typically featuring a group of figures in an interior or exterior setting.
Shown here is a detail on a vase from our collection. It features the traditional Chinese border formed of the meander, or cloud and thunder, pattern–in Western cultures this pattern is referred to as the Greek key. Within this gilded border, we see a group of courtly figures within a place wearing traditional robes.
Another characteristic feature of Canton porcelain vases is the use of highly saturated colours with a strong presence of green, pink, and orange hues.
Here is the pair of vases that was shown in detail above. The polychrome colour scheme is bright, saturated, and varied.
This pair of vases is larger than the previous pair, which is perfect for larger drawing rooms or sitting rooms. The larger scale allows for additional figural vignettes on the vase’s rim and lower sections.
This pair of vases is interesting and unusual for its prominent use of blue tones, which appear in the mountainous landscape in the central panel as well as the decorative features throughout the vase.
This final pair of vases has a lovely silhouette with its gourd shape. The modelled phoenix birds on the necks are also finely decorated in polychrome tones, which adds to the overall attractiveness of the vases.
To view our collection of Chinese Canton vases, click on the images below to see them on our website.