VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Moon jar
1999,0302.1
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This jar is a magnificent example of the ceramic art of the Choson dynasty (1392-1910). At this time, plain white porcelain represented the epitome of austere Confucian taste. As the scholar Yi Kyu-gyong wrote, 'the greatest merit of white porcelain lies in its absolute purity'.

History of the Object
The jar testifies to the admiration of two of the greatest twentieth-century British potters for Korean wares. It was bought in an antique shop in Seoul by Bernard Leach (1887-1979) in 1935, on one of his visits from Japan. He gave it to Lucie Rie (1902-95), who on her death bequeathed it to Janet Leach. They also acquired a letter from Bernard Leach to Rie, in which he asks her to collect the jar from a friend's house and look after it during the Second World War (1939-45). In the event, when Leach saw the jar in Rie's studio, he decided that it should remain there. A portrait by Lord Snowdon shows Rie, dressed all in white herself, seated beside the pot. Bernard Leach was involved with the Japanese mingei (folk crafts) movement in the early part of the twentieth century. The group particularly admired the white porcelain of the Choson period for its lack of self-consciousness, and the beauty of its slight imperfections. This jar shows this exquisitely, with the imperfections in the clay and the glaze, as well as in the bulge around the centre that marks the join between the upper and lower halves of the body.

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Type
Ceramics 
Materials
Porcelain 
Measurements
Height 47 cm.  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Korea 
Geography
Korea 
Time period
AD 17th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
17th Century - 18th Century 
Function
Decorative 
Acquisition
Purchased with the assistance of the Hahn Kwang-Ho Purchase Fund for Korean Art. The British Museum acquired the jar from the estate of Janet Leach in 1999. 
Copyright
Copyright the Trustees of the British Museum 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
British Museum 
Museum
British Museum 
Credit line
 

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