Famille Verte Porcelain

Famille verte (康熙五彩, Kangxi wucai, also 素三彩, Susancai), adopted in the Kangxi period around 1680, uses green in a few different shades and iron red with other overglaze colours. It developed from the wucai (五彩, “Five colours”) style, which combines underglaze cobalt blue with a few overglaze colours. The famille verte enamels may be painted on the biscuit (unglazed prefired ware) with no underglaze blue, or over high-fired glaze, producing wares of different appearances. Wares with enamel painted on the biscuit usually have a solid-colour ground such as yellow, black or green, while those painted over the glaze may have a white ground. Occasionally both underglaze and overglaze blue may be seen in the same object. The firing to fuse the enamels was done at a relatively low temperature.

A PAIR OF FAMILLE VERTE BOWLS | QING DYNASTY, KANGXI PERIOD [TWO ITEMS] |  Works of Art from the Morpurgo Collection | Chinese Works of Art | Sotheby's

The colours found in famille verte are typically green, red, yellow, blue and aubergine (non-vivid purple). Black may also be used and occasionally gold. The blue colour is more violet or royal blue in tone, which is different in shade from the blue used in Ming dynasty porcelain. The ability to achieve colour gradation famille verte is limited. The coloured enamels are often painted over the pure white body of the porcelain which comes over through the glaze. The colours may also be set off on a black or yellow grounds (known as famille noire and famille jaune respectively), and more rarely aubergine and green.

Famille verte wares were popular for several decades until the 1720s after the reign of Kangxi when it became supplanted by famille rose which has a greater colour range. It continued to be made in small amounts in the subsequent periods, and its popularity revived in the West in the late 19th and early 20th century.

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