Antique Chinese Porcelain collector's expert page, Ming, dynasty, Chinese porcelain marks

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D'Entrecolles, Pére Francois Xavier

A Jesuit missionary born in 1664, went out to China in the year 1698 and died in Peking in 1741.

At a time when all the nations of Europe were trying actively to discover the secrets of porcelain manufacture he informed his compatriots of the methods of the Chinese potters in two long letters, detailing with accuracy all that he had seen and heard. They were written by him in 1712 and 1722, in Jingdezhen, and published later in Paris.

His reports were the first detailed accounts on the manufacture of Chinese porcelain to reach the West and helped to fuel the European craze for porcelain and the search for the 'Arcanum', or the 'secret' formula for porcelain. However, unknown to d'Entrecolles, Bttger had already unraveled the secret of porcelain manufacture, leading to the establishment of the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory in 1710.

The letters have since been translated into English and are published in Porcelain: its Nature, Art and Manufacture by William Burton, London, 1906, and later in Ching-te-chen: Views of a Porcelain City by Robert Tichane, New York, 1983.

Despite that it seems that d'Entrecolles inadvertently mixed up the names of the clays, probably swapping the proportions of kaolin and petuntse and a number of other minor mistakes, these letters are still the basis of much of our knowledge of porcelain making in China.

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