Antique Chinese and Japanese Porcelain collector's help and info page

GLOSSARY

Kangxi revival porcelain decoration style (c. 1875-1908)

Small dish in Kangxi revival style (Guangxu 1875-1908)

Dish in Kangxi revival decoration. The dish is marked with a Kangxi four character mark, that despite being exceedingly rare on pieces actually from the Kangxi period, never have the missing two Da Qing characters from true Kangxi marks The decoration is also a new interpretation with elements never or occurring in this combination. The decoration under the rim is there as it should, on earlier pieces, but incorporates elements not seen on Kangxi period pieces like the cross strokes star.
Photo: Courtesy Greg Kowal Coll. 2021

The term "Kangxi revival" was invented here (at the Gotheborg Discussion Board) in communication with our former moderator Mike Vermeer to facilitate discussions of late Qing dynasty porcelain that are in the style of Kangxi porcelain - and often marked as such - but mostly dating to the Guangxu period (1875-1908).

The term is so far not academically recognized.

Mikes partner was a high end Los Angeles antiques dealer, Alan Griggs. When Alan passed, Mike Vermeer inherited a stunningly difficult collection of monochromes and Imperial pieces which he continued to extend. Not all were correct but at that level, life is not as easy as it seems. He was very knowledgeable and did a massive amount of research before posting anything, that often amounted to lectures. He hung around here as resident guru on things difficult until his passing in 2015.

Anyway, he pointed out that the Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) had been fascinated by the Kangxi period (1662-1722), which encouraged the porcelain industry to start making blue and white porcelain not copying but 'made in the spirit of' Kangxi.

Then we started to notice that blue and white porcelain, typically marked with a blue and white four characters mark that until then was called "Kangxi fakes" wasn't really copying Kangxi pieces but new inventions, just similar in style. There were new shapes, now borders, new motifs and new designs that just looked like they could have been invented during Kangxi, but they weren't.

As an alternative - or complementary - explanation to the revival of the Kangxi style could be the popularity of Chinese porcelain in Victorian interiors and its appearance in department stores in for example London, such as Liberty.

So, since there were no point in calling anything a "fake" that isn't, we started to call that kind of pieces "Kangxi revival" once we started to recognize them. I don't think the concept is taking off anytime soon in the trade, but it works here and saves time.

Chinese Kangxi revival pieces can on the whole be dated to the Guangxu period (1875-1908) but, we can find examples made for South East Asia also in Japanese porcelain until the 1950s, when the decorations starts to be printed, in a cold and watery style.

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