Qianlong period bowl??

Started by massrog, Oct 20, 2020, 13:05:29

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Hello This bowl is being represented as a period piece. The marks look a little sloppy compared to examples I've found. Does it look like a period export piece to you all? I couldn't get the pics I have to fit so please copy and paste the links below.
Thanks very much in advance!



There are no closeup shots showing the painted lines, bottom glaze consistency, etc. From what I see in these  pictures it could be export porcelain, but probably not of the period the mark states. Firstly, the Qianlong reign did virtually use no stamped marks, and the regular Qianlong marks would be in zhuanshu characters, not in this style. Basically, it is is also rare to see export porcelain of that period marked at all.

The bottom color looks a bit too white. Would need close up inspection to check the glaze. The rose decoration means it would have been made in Canton (today: Guangzhou). The rose decoration was made for export only, and it would require to check if Canton enamels were used, which were different from the fencai enamels used in Jingdezhen kilns.

From these small pictures it would seem that the western decoration is more in a western style than a chinese western-decoration. As most export porcelain was painted in Canton and was shipped out directly from there, only someone specialized in export porcelain of all types would be able to tell if the lifelike features of the people mean that it is a superior quality made to order piece or a later item. China itself had hardly any western-style decorations with people having lifelike features. Those closely resembling western decorations were made for the Qianlong emperor's collection, apparently. But, I doubt he would have used something with such a mark, and from Canton, if he could have had it made by the imperial kiln.

There is a good chance that it is export porcelain, but I would recommend to look into these:
1. Are there any usage signs?  Black and especially gilt is easily abrased during use. The gilt is fired at a relativ low temperature at the end of the decorating process, and it is vulnerable.
2. The windows containing the roses also contain some other plants, looking like members or the gourd family. As the imagines are too small it is not quite clear, but it looks as if the countours are painted in black, possibly in a way that was used in the 19th century or later. Might be all right, but might also mean that it is a later made item.
3. Any restorations? Any provenance information?

Anyway, I think it would be better that someone familiar with the subject would do a hands-on inspection on such an item. Images only are insufficient sometimes. It is necessary to inspect the glaze and foot rim with a magnifier, in my view, if there is no provenance. If there are no clear age signs it is recommended to be careful; I would not buy such an item online.


Peter, Thank you for the thorough reply! I had the vendor send me full size images and have uploaded them to my image host. I have attached a link to the gallery I created and hope you might (or anyone else) hazard another opinion based on those. I thank you again!




I can see only one image at the link.

Yes, that is what I was suspecting. See the black lines used for the contours of the flower petals and leaves?
In my experience this is only found only on certain items of the Jiaqing/Daoguang period, and then again in the 20th century. Contours where usually painted in a darker tone of the same color as the filling or in gray, but seldom in black. The roses do not look quite as those in Canton famille rose items too, so perhaps not painted in Canton after all.


Hi again, somehow my login under massrog got messed up and I couldn't get on so I registered again so it's me again! I guess I posted a link to an image rather than the gallery. Here is another, if it shows only 1 image again the title of the gallery above the image is a live link to the entire gallery.


Just commenting more on some details that give cause doubt about this.

This item's painting is atrocious in my view. Clearly not by the porcelain painter doing the other things. I think this was added later.

This is what I meant with black contours on every detail. This is normally of a later time. Black contours do exist, but usually the fines are very thin, less prominent.

Gilt and black decoration. The normal think would be that colors are fired, then the gilt is applied, and an additional firing at a lower temperature is carried for the gilt alone. That means, the black would be painted first, the gilt later. In the floral decoration you can clearly see that the black filling of the leaves in some places is covering the gilt. In the framing of the windows and along the top rim the gilt/black decoration looks awkward. Usually this is because someone was copying or over-painting a pre-existing decoration. Porcelain painters who paint hours and hours every day would paint in a more flowing, natural style, and the brush strokes would not look hesitant as here.

The gilt rim was repainted.
The people could be painted to order this way, some porcelain was painted according to samples/examples brought from Europe, we also know that some porcelain items were painted only partially or not at all in China, the rest was added in Europe.

The excellent painting style of the people and in contrast to that of the floral decoration and the flowers are incongruent. Basically, there is no single element that we could say points 100% to a Chinese item, except the mark. The people are clearly painted in a western style, which mostly could be only found in imperial porcelain, but the quality of the rest is below imperial quality.
The floral and bird decorations look as if they might be late Qing or 20th century, they do not fit into the overall painting style. The bird decoration is painted too badly, obviously it was added later or used to mend some pre-existing decoration.
The mark was stamped and is red, something that was hardly used all in the Qianlong era.

Overall, my personal view is that it is impossible to know if that was all painted in China, or in Europe. But it seems the decoration was over-painted or re-painted at least partially. This is not all original in my opinion. Too many doubts...


Hi Peter,
Thank you for the detailed explanation of the decoration!  We agree with each of your points for the most part. Goes to show experienced eyes see more than novices! I do have a couple of questions if you don't mind. You speak about the mark being stamped, How does one differentiate between stamped and hand calligraphy? I ask because it looks like hand done script to us. The difference in style between the figurative and floral decorations is obvious as you point out but our question is if the mark and quality of the figures point to an old piece or not. Would there be a possibility that this is one of the export for "foreign finish" pieces? Did they apply marks to those wares? Did they ship such wares early in the Qianlong reign when Kaishu script was still being used for reign marks? Thank you very much again!!!


Export porcelain was mostly not marked at all during the 18th century and earlier 29th century. It started (export) with the Guangxu reign, during which 'more often than not' the mark would be a Kangxi four character mark. In the republic period the mark was often a Qianlong four character mark, and for the rest of the 20th century Qianlong marks were often used on fakes and imitations.

Did you read the section on marks in the main site? It explains why marks cannot be used for dating. On one of the pages is a link to dominant mark styles. Kaishu marks were an exception in the Qianlong reign, even private kilns used mainly Zhuanshu marks. This has nothing to do with export porcelain, to be sure. The character type has nothing to do with hand-writing or stamped, or seals. Qianlong marks were predominantly hand-written despite being mostly in Zhuanshu style. Before computerisation seals (seal stamps) were hand-written with a brush on the seal and then carved. So they do mostly look the same. A normal seal today is in Kaishu.
When applying seals (stamps), whether they are rubber or wood, some characters would show deficiencies from unevenly applied pressure, seal abrasion, etc. It is often visible if a seal stamp was made with rubber or not, but here I'm not sure. Anyway, marks were mainly used for decoration, and apocryphal marks were also applied on later copies using earlier dynasties or reigns.


Hello again, I've added a few detail shot to the gallery. I am curious as to whether the rust spots and the glaze contraction I believe are there are legitimate age signs in your opinion. As always, thank you for your input!


Not sure which you mean, but overall the glaze looks as if the porcelain body could have age. How much is difficult to tell.
The bowl may be old, but with much porcelain that is on the market today there are modifications of the original decoration. Often that is the case because the decoration is abraded or partly invisible. If you have a retsoration, for example, that can still be an antique item, if it is restored to its original decoration and look. But if you have a larger part repainted or over-painted, then this is another matter.
For example, even with antique items we know that some porcelain bodies were fired in the Qianlong reign, but only painted in a later reign, in the early 19th century. Such an item would be considered as being from the later reign, not the Qianlong reign. The last modification or painting counts. But if you have something that was remade or modified to a large part, and it is clearly visible that something may be added at a different time due to the different painting style, then its age is counted from the latest addition/modification, not the time when the body was fired, usually. Here you have a later style and what may be an almost complete repainting of the black and gilt decoration...they do not show the normal abrasion or usage signs that they would with age either.


Thank you very much Peter! Upon close, critical inspection it looks to me like there are 3-4 sets of hands at work at various times (periods un-known). The Black as you have said is definitely later as you have said. That said even that has "restoration" (either real of faked) I am very intrigued so I will try to get in in the hands of someone locally with some expertise. Thanks again!