VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Fish bowl
0558797
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Large round fish bowl on high foot, upright curved sides indented below the wide, flat mouth rim. On either side there is a lion mask moulded in high relief with an opening for a ring in the mouth. The base is unglazed. Decorated in a great variety of enamel colours. On the sides, a continuous representation of different stages of porcelain production finished above and below with a band of lotus scrolls on a ground of cloud motifs. Below the mouth rim a band with separate butterflies and flower sprays. On the mouth rim, there are six panels with landscapes on a ground of scrolls and flowers. Around the foot, there is a band with curling leaf scrolls and a linear band with stylized lotus-leaf motifs. The inside is decorated with fish between water plants. This fish bowl is one of the most interesting and important examples of Chinese porcelain in The Netherlands. It is beautifully painted with painstaking attention to detail in pink, purple, yellow overglaze-blue, iron-red, green brown, overglaze white, black and gold with representations of a Chinese potter at work. He is preparing the clay, shaping the objects, working the potter's wheel, drying the pieces on long shelves, glazing and painting them before they are placed in seggars (stoneware containers) and finally fired in the kiln. It is remarkable that the different stages of production are not in separate panels, but are depicted as a continuous representation.

History of the Object
The fish bowl thus illustrates its own creation and the potters' workshops in Jingdezhen. Considering the accurate and abundant detail, it is likely that the painter depicted his own working environment. The piece is thus a record of porcelain production, and is a forerunner of the Chinese series of representations of porcelain production on paper that became popular souvenirs among western clients in the second half of the 18th century. The shape and decoration on the inside indicate that it was made for use as a fish bowl. In the west, such a splendidly painted, undoubtedly expensive fish bowl was a spectacular addition to the interior decor.

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Type
Decorative Art 
Materials
Porcelain, enamel colours and gold 
Measurements
height 40 cm; diameter rim 60.2 cm; diameter foot ring 37.2 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
18th Century; 1730 - 1750 (qing Dynasty, Qianlong) 
Function
Fish bowl 
Acquisition
Acquired in 1959 as a gift from the Society of the Friends of The Hague Museum 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
Lit..: M. Beurdeley, Porcelain de la Compagnie des Indes, Fribourg 1962, fig 3 and 4. B. Jansen, Chinese ceramiek, cat. Haags Gemeentemuseum, Lochem 1976, cat.no. 321/ C. Jörg, Oriental Porcelain in The Netherlands. Four Museum Collections, Groningen 2003, p. 30-31, cat.no. 12 
Owner
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag 
Museum
Gemeentemuseum 
Credit line
 

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