治潁珍藏 | ZhiYing Collection | 道光粉彩瓷鼻煙壺 | Enameled Porcelain Snuff Bottles

Famille-Rose 粉彩

Famille-rose enamels, meaning the “Rose Family” in French, is a pink enamel first introduced around the later part of 1720’s for use to decorate porcelain. The most notable enamel is made from colloidal gold and when fired, appear as a pink or rose colouration on its substrate, thus the name Famille-rose

Famille-rose enamels was first used during the latter part of KangXi 康熙regime and reach its best quality, especially for export Chinese ware during the YongZheng 雍正period (1723-1735).

Compared with the famille verte enamels of the Kangxi period (康熙五彩 - kangxi wucai), which is transparent. Famille-rose colours are often opaque or semi-opaque in nature, can be fired at a lower temperature, have a wider range of colour and does not flow during firing. All the characteristic of the new enamel enables a more favourable workflow for the artisans. Beside the pink or rose colouration of the famille-rose, the new enamel palette also offers significant new hues of yellow, green, blue, purple and opaque white colours.

During the time of Emperor Yongzheng, famille-rose wares reached its peak and became dominate palette in overglaze decoration for the palace wares. YongZhen famille-rose wares had delicate decoration with fine shading to the enamels on compared to KangXi wares. The porcelain at that time had a distinctive feminine quality that seems to be more liked compared to the more masculine KangXi wares. Quality of famille-rose, especially the export wares started to deteriorate during the Qianlong time and cannot be compared to the quality of YongZheng famille-rose.

However, during the QianLong 乾隆reign, new techniques continued to develop to be use in decorating palace wares. Typically, the details of the decoration were filled in within outlines rather than 'boneless'. More colours began to appear as the background. The decoration was painted not only on a white transparent porcelain glaze but also on coloured backgrounds such as yellow, blue, pink, coral red, light green, 'cafe au lait' and (Batavia) brown, etc. The designs also grew increasingly complex.

There are various possibilities of how famille-rose came to China. The most commonly accepted way is that famille-rose found its way to China through the Jesuits after learning the technique from European enamellers at Limoges or some of the German factories where the rose-coloured enamel was applied on copper. The other theory is that it was invented by Andreas Cassius of Leyden in the 17th century and found its way to China through the Jesuits, possibly by courtesy of Giuseppe Castiglione.

Famille-rose took on slightly different name through its development. In the Yongzheng time, it was known as ruancai 软彩meaning soft colours, most likely due to its more feminine appearance. During the Qianlong reign it was often called yangcai 洋彩or foreign colours. This is most likely due to the popularity of the enamel being used on export wares. The other possibility could be because the techniques, material used and the way pigments was mixed are all learned from the European. The currently name for famille-rose enamel, Fencai 粉彩or literally translate to powder colours is a term used for the enamel in the 19th century. It actually meant wares with famille-rose enamel decoration against a white ground, whereas 'falangcai' 珐琅彩is the name that descripted famille-rose enamel on a coloured ground'. The term 'falang' which sounds like 'foreign' could well be a name coined after the pronunciation of the English word ‘foreign.’

It is also important to distinguish the technique used in applying famille-rose compared to another technique call QianJiang 浅洚enamel. (See foot note for a short description of QianJiang Porcelain). Famille-rose is characterized by that an opaque glassy white (玻璃白 - bo li bai) enamel (lead arsenate) that is employed as the base before the any coloured layer is applied onto the wares. The coloured enamels can further be mixed with white enamel or brushed on top of it to created variations in tone and hues. The earlier technique of applying the coloured layers of this palette to the wares also employed the use of a layer of glue as its base which helped with building thick layers of enamels, while later versions are applied with the use of rue oil as a medium, which gives thinner layers. On the other hand, QianJiang colours are applied, using the same colour as famille-rose, plus an additional cobalt black colour directly onto the wares. The result is that famille-rose appear more subtle and 3D. This is due to the additional glassy white enamel applied that defused the coloration of the pigment and also add to the overall thickness of the enamel.

Famille-rose is also a well-liked enamel used to decorate snuff bottles. The best imperial famille-rose snuff bottle made during the YongZheng and predominantly QianLong period, is made under the name of Gu Yue Xuan 古月轩. It is believed that some of the motives on the bottles were inspired by the Italian painter Giuseppe Castiglione 郎世寧,原名朱塞佩伽斯底里奧內. Most pieces are decorated with birds, flowers and rock-work and occasionally poems. On genuine pieces the flowers have lively Spring-like quality on extremely white porcelain base. The glaze and the body are primarily fused together at a very high temperature giving them a gem-like quality.

The quality of famille-rose snuff bottle declined together with the rest of the famille-rose wares during the latter part of QianLong period but got a face lift during the DaoGuang 道光regime. The main reason is because the Qing Dynasty was stripped off financially due to the frequent military operation needed to quench various rebel and invasion of the empire. As such, DaoGuang emperor has no choice but to switch to a cheaper material to manufacture court present such as snuff bottle. During this time, patriotic messages were also inscribed onto snuff bottles like the cricket bottle or the scene of victory over ZunGe’Er 准格尔rebel. During the DaoGuang regime, other than the bottles with the regime mark, snuff bottles that had the hall mark as ShenDeTangZhi 慎德堂制are also of very high quality. ShenDeTang was though to be the personal kiln of DaoGuang emperor.

Note:

Definition of QianJiang

The term QianJiang Cai (enamels) or QianJiang porcelain was only coined in the 1950s. Prior to that, annals or commentaries in late Qing and Republican period did not classify it as a new type of over-glaze enamel technique on porcelain. The term QianJiang was initially used to describe the type of “浅洚山水” landscape painting by Yuan master literati painter Huang GongWang. It is typified by use of a particular colour scheme: varying ink tone for outline, mass, area in shade of mountain/ tree trunk and reddish-brown for other aspects such as the foliage, water and the lighted area of the mountain.


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