History of China Painting
The art of producing and decorating porcelain dates back to ancient China. The Chinese, being supreme secret keepers, remained the masters and sole producers of porcelain art until the middle of the 1700s.
In the last 300 years the most sought after and highly prized porcelain is made with clay from the Limoges Region of France. Consequently, Limoges porcelain is very expensive and is avidly sought by collectors today.
Then Why Isn't It Called France?
When Marco Polo brought back the first porcelain vase from China, the Europeans took to calling it "china" and the name stuck. As a result, white ware produced anywhere in the world is typically still called "china".
The art of china painting is also called China Decorating, Porcelain Painting, Porcelain Art, On-Glaze Painting, and On-Glaze Art.
What is China Painting?
China painting is the art of applying colored mineral paint over glazed porcelain blanks. The painted porcelain is fired in a kiln to over 1,000 degrees F between each layer of paint. Firing causes the paint to sink into the glaze thereby giving porcelain art a permanence not found in the other fine arts.
China Painting Takes Patience
A typical piece of porcelain art undergoes many coats and firings as the decoration is slowly built up in layers. Artists must first envision their finished piece, then be able to break down that vision to build it in layers. Sometimes the first layer only looks like smudges of paint.
Did You Know?
The China Decorator magazine was originally published from 1887 to 1901. And then again from 1956 to present. To read some of the 110+ year old issues click below:
China Decorator Reading Room
Do I Have to Paint Flowers?
Though flowers have been the traditionally subject for china painters, any subject is painted nowadays--portraits, people, children, fruits, vegetables, trees, scenes, animals, birds, fish, patterns, fantasy, objects, abstract, and anything else you can imagine.
Learn About China Painting
China Painting Resources
Arguably the largest and best maintained list of china painting resources in the entire world is Australian, Janette Graham's website:
The China Painting List
Porcelain Art Recognized
In 1980, the U.S. Congress passed, and then-President Jimmy Carter signed, a proclamation declaring Porcelain Art to be a fine art recognized by all the world's civilizations. They set aside July 1980 as National Porcelain Art Month.