When western explorers first made contact with the Chinese, they returned with word of many fascinating art forms, products, and innovations. One of these art forms was Chinese porcelain, which subsequently became known as what else - china. The making of china is an art that goes back centuries in China, and it is one that evolved with the various dynasties that make up Chinese history. Over the years, the type of glazing and enamel applied to China changed as new designs and colors became fashionable.
It also became common for designs originating in China to become widely popular in Europe. In fact, many Chinese porcelain innovations were trend setters for the European markets. One of these innovations was the color "family" known as Famille Verte. But European influences can also be found to have influenced Chinese designs; this is the case with the color family and designs associated with Famille Rose.
Famille Rose is a huge umbrella term categorizing a piece of porcelain by its color and not by its pattern style or period of production. Most Chinese porcelain made for export -- if it wasn't the popular blue-and-white developed in the Ming Dynasty -- was Famille Rose. Other famille color groups existed at the same time -- famille verte, famille noire, and famille jaune.
All the colorful famille porcelains used pigments made from metallic oxides, such as iron, copper, or manganese, which were called enamels. Pigments associated with the famille rose palette were a major innovation that ceramics scholars have long attributed to European influence. The characteristic ruby pink was thought to be derived from gold by a German technique known as "purple of Cassius" introduced to the imperial Chinese court by Jesuit missionaries.
Known in the West by its signature pink palette, 18th-century Chinese porcelain added an irresistible new color to the rainbow of enamels
Famille-rose enamels were first introduced during the Kangxi period (1662-1722) on Imperial wares. The best quality Famille-rose export wares date from the Yongzheng period (1723-1735). At this time the enamels tended to be soft and translucent, and the drawing very fine. In this section you will find, among many other things, good armorial porcelain and some pieces decorated with European scenes.