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Asian Art Museum

Course: Asian Art Museum > Unit 5

Lesson 1: China

Covered jar with fish in lotus pond

Enlarge this image. Covered jar with fish in lotus pond. China; Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Porcelain with underglaze and overglaze polychrome decoration. Courtesy of the Asian Art Museum, The Avery Brundage Collection, B60P78+.
As polychrome decoration gained more widespread popularity, advances in the technique were made during the Jiajing period. Potters learned to mix finely ground minerals, such as iron, copper, or cobalt, in order to obtain subdued color hues. Color themes were much more broadened and enriched than those of the fifteenth century.
This piece, from the Avery Brundage Collection of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, illustrates a method of polychrome decoration in which painting, as well as firing, occurred twice: preceding glaze and over previously fired glaze. The pictorial scene on the covered jar presents an exuberant theme with seven tones in overall harmony. That the potter sought out new color hues is evident in the attenuated greens and overlapping oranges and reds. The potter’s masterly use of tone, clay, and design make this jar especially precious.

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