That's right. The blue and white export porcelain we know today has been the "it" accessory for hundreds of years. Porcelain began to be exported to Europe and then America from the 16th century. In China, ceramics have been made since the paleolithic era, and since the 17th century, even the best in Chinese porcelain has been made on an industrial scale to supply the demand. The use of blue and white themes, however happen in Chinese porcelain around the 1300's when China was doing export Islamic trade with then Persia and their cobalt.
Honestly, if you're interested in Chinese export porcelain at all - I highly recommend this book, which is BEAUTIFUL and brilliantly informative! Particularly if you're a quality collector:
It's not altogether inexpensive, but as a resource manual it proves invaluable. Alright, so back to the 16th century. China begins to export porcelain to Europe, and gifts are given to diplomats and royalty as part of China's commitment to fair trade. At this point, the pieces become covetable - and it's brilliant, right? I mean, I don't follow Kris Jenner on Instagram, BUT, I happened upon a post she made the other day where she got $5,000 worth of free clothes from Diane von Furstenberg. Clearly, she could afford those clothes, but she was given them for free because when she was seen with them, it would incite people to buy those things, and it probably has.
Let's take a look at how the royals decided to show off their gifts:
Beautiful Chinoiserie Temple Jars on gilt and lacquer commodes at Windsor Castle.
Sandringham House, the Christmas Vacation Home of British Royals with an impressive collection of Chinoiserie Porcelain. And much more recently:
The Kensington Palace apartment of Prince William and Duchess Kate. A Chinoiserie Garden stool (not old) and a collection of Chinoiserie vases on the back wall. American decorators have taken the blue and white porcelain collections and implemented them in their designs for decades. The great Elsie de Wolfe, who was known as America's first decorator used them, along with the great Albert Hadley, who used lacquer screens and furniture in nearly all of his designs.
Of course, Mark D. Sikes uses them, and has probably been paramount in bringing them back into the forefront, even though they've been here nearly forever. So, where and how can you get them at a price that won't break the bank?
This beautiful dragon vase with handles is new, but inspired by antique versions of the same shape and size. $47.59 on Amazon with free 2-day Prime shipping! (P.S., links are available by visiting the blog directly if you're reading this in email.)
An impressive 14" tall, this is a great piece for those of you who already have those 9" ginger jars, and other smaller pieces. A pair of these would look gorgeous flanking art or a mirror on a fireplace, chest, or entry table. You could even have them turned into lamps, like Mary did for the dining room sideboard above. The beautiful chrysanthemum pattern plays well with all other Chinoiserie patterns.
I think that these pieces look best in collections of various sizes and shapes. These small ginger jars are great for mixing in with the larger vases, above, and they serve multiple functions. You can store things safely and privately inside, or remove the lid and use as an additional vase! They are also perfect if you're looking to dress up the inside of cabinets or bookshelves.
For the Smaller 7" version
When you're putting together a collection, I think different shapes are important, too! I love these little tea caddy. It's small - perfect for putting on wall brackets (sconces) or for peppering into larger collections. And so affordable!
Another way to broaden a collection and also to have a variety of sizes and shapes is to include large bowls. This one is 12" wide, 5" deep - so it's substantial enough to be really a big impact, and also useful. It could have a utilitarian use as a place for keys at the entry table, or a decorative use standing along as is, or filled with pretty seasonal things like pinecones or white coral fragments, even utilitarian AND beautiful with fruit in it, like Mary McDonald did in the foyer of her former Beverly Hills home.
This pretty 9" vase would work beautifully in a collection, and also be great for putting on wall brackets (sconces). You could also turn it into a small lamp for atop your kitchen counter, or in a powder room!
Another lidded jar, this one is 11" tall, a good stacking height against those smaller 9" pieces on your way toward the 14" vases. Plus a whole new shape.
This beauty is 12" tall. So it's another one that you'd do well in buying a pair. Great for a fireplace, or a sideboard, and also could be turned into lamps!
Ok, so this one is a little more than $50. But for 18" tall, and that glorious glaze, it's still a TREMENDOUS value! They sell similar vases to this one at Wisteria for nearly $300!
Another wonderful way to grow a collection and spread your sizes and shapes is to branch out into jardineres! They look wonderful with a collection of vases and jars and you can keep them filled with beautiful orchids all year long!
Talk about expensive, chinoiserie garden stools can really blow a budget. These little diddies are not cheap, but they look great as little side tables in living rooms or bedrooms (as above) and while this one is a little over the $50 mark, it's still a lot less than you'd pay for similar pieces!
Because of their construction, they also look great and weather well outside, depending on your climate.
Much less expensive than a chair in most cases, they prove to be useful for short-term seating solutions, too - and can be beautifully tucked under an entry table when not in use.
|Design by Mark D. Sikes|
|Design by Mark D. Sikes|
Of course, for more inspiration about how to place your blue and white accessories, you could also pick up a copy of Mark's book:
Or Miles' book:
Or Mary's book:
Or Suzanne Kasler's book(s):
Or Michelle's book:
And finally, the big book of blue and white, Bunny Williams' book on her home in Punta Cana, La Colina: