Chinese Ceramics:
A New Comprehensive Survey from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
By: He Li

Chinese Porcelain (in general)

he_li.jpgChinese Ceramics: The New Standard Guide

WILL BECOME CLASSIC – Best starting point – Must have

If you really just want one book on Chinese porcelain, I would recommend Chinese Ceramics, by He Li. It covers it all, it’s modern, it’s up to date and it shows good quality pieces from the entire Chinese history and it gives splendid value for money.

Far Eastern Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum by J. G Ayers

Chinese Porcelain (in general)

far eastern
Far Eastern Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Masterpieces from the V&A collection.
By Ayers, J.G.

Catalog of one of world”s finest collections of Eastern ceramics housed in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Features 69 pieces of Chinese, 18 Japanese, 6 Korean and 1 Cambodian ceramics throughout the ages. (Originally published as part of the *deluxe* edition of Kodansha”s Oriental Ceramics: The World”s Great Collections, Volume 6 The Victoria and Albert Museum)

ISBN. 0856670766
Hardcover: 294 pages
Sotheby Parke Bernet, London and New York, 1980.
Publisher: Sotheby Parke Bernet Publications (December 1994)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0856670766
ISBN-13: 978-0856670763

April 6th, 2008

Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art:
A Guide to the Collection

By: Rosemary E. Scott

Chinese Porcelain (in general)

Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art: A Guide to the Collection, by Rosemary E. Scott

London: The Foundation and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1989.
A booklet introducing the Foundation, the founders of the collection, the scope of the collection, and different wares from the Song, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.

112 pages
Publisher: School of Oriental & African Studies (September 1989)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0728601508
ISBN-13: 978-0728601505

April 5th, 2008

Porcelains of Jingdezhen
By: Rosemary E. Scott (Ed.)

Chinese Porcelain (in general)

The Porcelains of Jingdezhen: Held on June 15-17 1992 in Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Sir Percival David and the 40th Annive (Colloquies on Art & Archaeology in Asia)

Porcelains of Jingdezhen (Colloquies on Art & Archaeology in Asia; no. 16). Rosemary E. Scott (Ed.)
A seminar held on June 15-17 1992 in Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Sir Percival David and the 40th Annive (Colloquies on Art & Archaeology in Asia)
Contains 12 papers on the Jingdezhen kilns and their products, the most recent archaeological finds, types of wares from the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, and export porcelain.

London: Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, 1993.
ISBN. 0 7286 0216 4

April 4th, 2008

Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society

Chinese Porcelain (in general) // Imperial Chinese Porcelain

Transactions (OCS, London)

Begun with an unnumbered issue for 1921/22, it is published annually. Many of the articles are studies on Chinese ceramics, but also on other aspects of Chinese and Asian art. The entire series as well as individual issues are unequaled sources of scholarly discourse on Chinese ceramics. Highly recommended.

Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society,
ISSN 0306-0926. London: The Society, 1923-

April 4th, 2008

Ceramics in Scholarly Taste

By: Maura Rinaldi

Chinese Porcelain (in general) // Qianjiang / 20th century

Best book on small items for the Scholarl’s Table, centered around late Qing

This book is a catalog from a Southeast Asian Ceramic Society exhibition in Singapore 1993. It is a very interesting review from a Chinese Scholars point of view about small items made for his desk. They are very nice and sophisticated and from a western point of view hard to understand and to identify properly. There are seal past boxes, brush rests, brush pots, water droppers, wrists rest, ink slabs and brush washers etc.

If you have an interest in these small and sophisticated Chinese porcelain collector’s items, this book is for you. The book is fun and focused. I find it very interesting myself and to read it through is well spent time in pleasant company with the well known and accomplished scholar Maura Rinaldi as your guide. She is as you might recognize also the author of the standard reference work “Kraak Porcelain”, also mentioned on this list.

The items span from the Song dynasty up until the Early Republic period.


Paperback: 151 pages
Publisher: Southeast Asian Ceramic Society (October 1995)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9810043953
ISBN-13: 978-9810043957
Product Dimensions: 11.7 x 8.3 x 0.4 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds

April 2nd, 2008

Chinese Folk Painting on Porcelain

By: Bi Keguan

Chinese Porcelain (in general) // Min Yao

bikeguan.jpgChinese Folk Painting on Porcelain

At the Shanghai Museum Shop and probably at many other Museum Shops this book should be available. This is an unusual book even if in some minor parts some dates are wrong, but most important is that he has an interesting point in speaking up for the “peoples porcelain” min yao as an art form separated from the Imperial tradition.

Translated from Chinese, the book discusses the art of underglazed porcelain painting at private kilns, various styles, decorations and artistic values. Its about the impressionistic and simplified peoples drawing that can’t help but being closely related to the Chinese written language. It is very easy to observe once you have begun to think about it and this is what makes this book valuable in my eyes. It also traces down the developmen of some well known patterns, and on the whole, makes common everyday wares more interesting.

Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1991.

CLASSIC – on decorations on Chinese folk wares

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Foreign Languages Press (December 1991)
ISBN-10: 7119014056
ISBN-13: 978-7119014050

March 26th, 2008

Chinese Ceramics:
Porcelain of the Qing Dynasty 1644-1911
By: Rose Kerr

Chinese Porcelain (in general) // Imperial Chinese Porcelain

Chinese Ceramics: Porcelain of the Qing Dynasty 1644-1911)

Comparably thin but a very important book. For those with a serious interest in Imperial Chinese porcelain.

Drawing from examples of V & A collections, the study is a useful introduction to Qing ceramics, focusing on objects produced for domestic use. Has a very useful chapter on sources in Chinese, French and English on the history of Jingdezhen. Also discussed is Jingdezhen kiln technology.

I think that when I am thinking about a good beginners book to recommend, it is not a book about cheap porcelain you can find at flea markets I am thinking of, but this book, for example, that in a modest format explains why Chinese porcelain is an exceptionally interesting art form and how come peopele are prepared to pay millions of $ for just one vase or a dish. I think that is where we should all begin, and then scale down towards what we can afford but with the goal in mind, that one day we should own at least one of these pieces.

Recommended beginners introduction
on Chinese Imperial ware

March 26th, 2008

Oriental Blue & White by Sir Harry Garner

Chinese Porcelain (in general)

garner_blueandwhite.jpgOriental Blue and White, Sir Harry Garner

One of several old books on the subject I really like. It’s a time tested classic, originally published in 1954. Personally I think the third edition is the best. Garner is very “readable” even if later research has proved him not entirely correct in some details, but that will eventually happen to everybody, and does not detract from the overall understanding of the subject of Chinese porcelain that this book will bring.

It is a splendid classic and belongs in any serious reference library, but just that it does not need to come in there first, it should some day, but there is maybe no need to buy this book as one of your first.

Hardcover: 104 pages
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0571047025
ISBN-13: 978-0571047024

Classic introduction to Chinese Blue and White porcelain, mostly Ming. If you started to collect Chinese porcelain a few decades ago, this was on of the books you would find useful as an introduction to this exclusive passtime.

March 26th, 2008

Chinese Blue and White Porcelain by Duncan Macintosh

Blue and White // Chinese Porcelain (in general)

Chinese Blue and White Porcelain

Chinese Blue and White Porcelain, by Duncan Macintosh. In this volume the author walks you through the history of blue and white porcelain while explaining the historical setting which to me is very important for to understand why the porcelain ended up as it did. If you want to understand the porcelain on a deeper level this is an important book. At first most blue and white porcelain looks, well, just blue and white. This book helps you see the significat differences between porcelain from the different dynasties.

Chinese Blue & White Porcelain, by Duncan Macintosh 2nd ed. Hong Kong: Book Marketing Ltd., 1986,
Reprinted with minor amendments 1988.
The 3rd edition was published in 1994.
Reprinted 1997.

Format: Hardcover, 236 pages
ISBN: 9789622110670

March 25th, 2008

Underglaze Blue and Red by Wang Qingzheng

Chinese Porcelain (in general)

Underglaze Blue and Red, Elegant decoration of Porcelain from Yuan, Ming and Qing by Wang Qingzheng.


Important book on Imperial and good quality folk porcelain. Important since it is written by a Chinese scholar and it is as important as rare that we in the West get to know, first hand, the point of views found among many Chinese scholars, without the information being filtered through the traditional opinions of western scholars. We have our bases that needs to be touched every time we go about writing about something. It might be a refreshing relief if we don’t, just for once, as in this book. Important information culled from Chinese sources regarding marks and period charateristics explained from their historical context.

March 25th, 2008

The Chinese Potter: A Practical History of Chinese Ceramics by Margaret Medley

Chinese Porcelain (in general)

chinese_potter1.jpgThe Chinese Potter

The Chinese Potter, by Margaret Medley, London, 1976. The publisher tells “Most studies of Chinese art deal with types, period or styles, but this historical examination of Chinese ceramics, which uses recent research, explains how the evolution of pottery depended upon the technological developments of the Chinese culture. The book’s practical approach makes full use of archaeological reports to show how differing geographical areas, materials and developing technology all shaped the evolution of Chinese ceramics.” Now, this is today a somewhat outdated book but the author is a good writer and with her excellent grasp of the subject, this book will not be too old to read for a very long time to come.

The work provides a very useful overview of Chinese ceramics, the technology, formation and development, varieties and forms.

China has the longest and most highly developed ceramic tradition in the world, encompassing early Neolithic earthenwares, the finely glazed stoneware pieces of the Song period – widely regarded as among the greatest ceramics ever produced – and the years of Imperial patronage and export ware for the new markets of the West. Margaret Medley’s groundbreaking study was the first to bring a practical approach to the study of Chinese pottery. She makes full use of archaeological reports to show how differing geographical areas, materials and developing technology all shaped the evolution of Chinese ceramics. Her revolutionary insights, along with an astute critical judgment in the field of art history itself, combine to form a classic but approachable account which has profoundly influenced the way in which Chinese pottery is studied.

1st ed. published in 1976
2nd ed. Oxford, U. K.: Phaidon, 1980.
3rd Revised edition issued in 1989, ISBN: 071482593X

March 25th, 2008

A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics
in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

By: Suzanne G. Valenstein

Chinese Porcelain (in general)


A handbook of Chinese ceramics

Covers ceramics from the Neolithic period to the present. This is a good “summary” and draws on pieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The illustrations are good and the text concise and on the dot. There is something as too much, when it comes to information and this is “enough” in most cases. It is a good buy if you are looking into just one book. I like it because I can trust the information, and the selection of pieces is a good one. Does this sound like you have heard it before? Well, they are very similar but there are much more pictures in this then in Vainiker. The outlook is mostly technical.

The 2nd ed. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1989 is a partially rewritten and much enlarged edition, the work includes an index, more illustrations and new information from recent archaeological discoveries. It provides a description of the Metropolitan Museum’s collection, but also gives a history of Chinese ceramics.

March 25th, 2008

Chinese Pottery and Porcelain:
From Prehistory to the Present
By Shelagh Vainker

Chinese Porcelain (in general) // Ming Porcelain

Second edition

Covers ceramics from the Neolithic period to the present. This is a good “summary” and draws on pieces from the British Museum. The illustrations are good and the text consise and on the dot. There is something as too much, when it comes to information and this is “enough” in most cases. It is a good buy if you are looking into just one bok. I like it because I can trust the information, and the selection of illustration is good. It is actually hard to find just a few pieces that fairly well represent a whole period. The point of view is more humanistic than Valenstein’s (MET) book which is also a very good choice but which tends to do a lot of listings. I know, buy both. (LEFT: Second edition, 2005)

The publisher adds the following:

The art of Chinese ceramics encompasses prehistoric clay figurines of pregnant women, bronze ritualistic bells, exotic earthenware figures of merchants in the Central Asian silk trade, Ming writing-boxes bearing Arabic inscriptions, Taoist shrines adorned with lacquer and gilding, and pagoda tiles molded with monster masks. It’s an art as richly varied as Chinese civilization itself, as this resplendently illustrated survey makes abundantly clear. First edition 1991
Vainker, a curator at the British Museum, draws on the museum’s vast collection of Chinese stoneware, porcelain and religious sculpture in her absorbing narrative. Proceeding from the riotous gaiety of Tang “three-color wares” (A.D. 618-906) to the classical equilibrium of 12th-century Song pottery to a modern, softly glowing “eggshell” porcelain vase, Vainker vibrantly charts “a continued transformation of the contemporary into the collectible.”

Well this is not entirely the full truth. The author actually uses up close to 140 out of a total 216 (240 with appendixes) pages to approach actual porcelain and not before p 134 do we enter the world of blue and white porcelain. Still this is a splendid book which I highly recommended. (RIGHT: First edition, 1991.)

March 25th, 2008