Chinese collection

Item LL 6158
Detail of bowl exterior of item LL 6158
Detail of bowl exterior of item LL 6158
Detail of bowl exterior of item LL 6158
Detail of bowl exterior of item LL 6158
Detail of bowl exterior of item LL 6158
Detail of bowl exterior of item LL 6158
Detail of bowl exterior of item LL 6158
Detail of bowl exterior of item LL 6158
Detail of bowl exterior of item LL 6158
Detail of bowl interior of item LL 6158
View of bowl interior of item LL 6158

Accession no: LL 6158
Object type: Ceramic
Name: Large bowl
Materials: Porcelain with underglaze blue decoration
Place made: Jingdezhen, China
Date made: Qing Dynasty, Kangxi (1662-1722 AD)
Measurements: H. 19.1 cm, D. 36.9 cm(at rim), 16.8 cm(at base)

Description: Large bowl on footing, spreading flat rim. Decorated in underglaze blue. Inside, a medallion with a harp rising from the waves. Border of prunus branches. Outside, two belts with scenes from romance in landscape setting. Border of phoenix and peony pattern.

The large bowl illustrates various scenes from the ‘Xi Xiang Ji’, by leading playwright Wang Shifu (about 1250-1300), generally referred to in English as ‘The Romance of the Western Chamber’, which is the most-widely used story on narrative-decorated ceramics in 17th century China. The reasons for the interest in this play and its representation on ceramics can be tied to three major trends: greater artistic freedom enjoyed by the artisans of the kiln centre of Jingdezhen after the death of the Ming Wanli Emperor in 1620 (when the kilns were forced to seek new patrons at the end of imperial patronage), the increase in popularity and quality of woodblock illustration in the Shunzhi and early Kangxi reigns, (1644-61 and 1662-1722), and the increasing use of narrative themes in literature for social and political commentary. At that time ‘The Romance of the Western Chamber’ achieved extraordinary popularity both on the stage and in print, going through more than a hundred editions between 1600 and 1900.

Provenance
Richard Bennett collection; his sale, 1911, purchased by Edgar Gorer for Lever; by whom gifted to the Lady Lever Art Gallery, 1922.

Literature
E. Gorer, Catalogue of the Collection of Old Chinese Porcelains formed by Richard Bennett, Esq. Thornby Hall, Northampton, London, 1911, p. 7, No. 23. R. L. Hobson, Chinese Porcelain and Wedgwood Pottery with Other Works of Ceramic Art, London: B. T. Batsford, Ltd., 1928, No. 142.