Lustre Revealed: Jingdezhen Porcelain Wares in Mid Fifteenth Century


Date:2019-05-28 ~ 2019-09-01
Venue:No. 2 Exhibition Hall

       The three reigns of Zhengtong, Jingtai and Tianshun (1436-1464) in mid Ming dynasty went through political turmoil of the throne competition between two brothers. The period oftwenty-nine years seems a gap between the golden ages of precedent Xuande reign (1426-35) and the following Chenghua reign (1465-87) in terms of imperial porcelain production. Due to the lack of emperor’s reign names inscribed on official porcelain wares and the absence of historical texts, we know little about this period, which also presents difficulties in the identification of civilian kiln products. Over the recent centuries, this mysterious period has been called “Interregnum Period” or “Dark Period” in the history of Chinese porcelain.
   Scholars have started to elicit discussions on this period with great achievements in archaeological findings since decades ago. In 1988, the imperial kiln site of Zhengtong reign was discovered at Mount Zhushan, Jingdezhen, together with important porcelain hards excavated in great amount from the Zhengtong to Tianshun strata in 2014, which has gradually thrown light on the imperial porcelain production in this particular period.
   The Shanghai Museum and Jingdezhen Imperial Ceramic Archaeological Research Institute jointly present the current grand show, which features the Shanghai Museum collection, newly discovered imperial porcelains from Jingdezhen, and various important loans from other twenty-six museums and institutes all over the world. In addition to the official porcelain wares of the three-reign period, the exhibition also provides examples designed for the Ming royal governors (fanwang) and civilian kiln products as well, which could rival the Xuande and Chenghua porcelain wares in quality and variety.
   It is noteworthy that this is an effortful attempt to assemble all the representative porcelain products of the mid fiftenth century China for the firsttime, and we are deeply indebted to all the lenders for their generous support to make this possible. We hope this comprehensive exhibition will bring a fresh reconstruction of the art, history and scholarship of the porcelain production of Zhengtong, Jingtai and Tianshun reigns.