When it comes to design, there is no pairing more iconic than blue and white. Today we are looking at the history of blue and white designs alongside examples of blue and white porcelain in our collection – click on the photographs to learn more about eaech piece.
Blue and white decoration is synonymous with Chinese porcelain: the earliest examples of Chinese blue and white wares appeared during the Tang Dynasty in the 9th century. In the early 14th century, the Chinese potters developed fine blue and white porcelain in Jingdezhen, which has been referred to as the ‘porcelain capital’ of China. The blue and white wares of this date utilized cobalt exported from Persia in combination with the white porcelain of Chinese tradition.
By the 17th century, Chinese potters were creating blue and white porcelain for export to the European markets. European collectors often mounted these pieces with silver and gold mounts as they were so highly prized. As early as the 1640s, the Dutch, producing Delftware, began to copy Chinese blue and white designs due to the popularity of this style.
Chinese export blue and white porcelain remained highly valuable throughout the 18th century in Europe and led to many imitations, including the well known willow pattern made by Royal Stafford at the end of the 18th century.
The designs on blue and white Chinese porcelain varied greatly. The fo dog, also known as an Imperial guardian lion, derives from Chinese Buddhist tradition that regards the lion as a symbol of protection. Another common decorative feature is the fish, which is a symbol of abundance and affluence. These symbols are often used to decorate blue and white porcelain along with abstracted foliage with a variety of flowers. Peonies, chrysanthemums, and hibiscus, amongst others, all hold special meaning in Chinese culture and can be found on blue and white vases in abundance.