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Underglazed Blue and Copper Red Designs

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Author Topic: Underglazed Blue and Copper Red Designs  (Read 2800 times)
rpfstoneman
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« on: February 23, 2013, 12:18:32 am »

Ceramics with underglaze copper-red decoration are less common as copper mineral is known to be notoriously difficult to control during the firing process, resulting in a grey or almost colorless design. The failure rate was said to be so high that the Jingdezhen potters often had to plead with officials to reduce orders requested by the Court.  When executed properly the cooper red color is an attractive crush raspberry-red tone (as opposed to iron red which tends to take on a more orange-red tone), and is evenly distributed.
 
Copper has two oxidation states. The cupric oxide can be reduced to cuprous oxide (Cu2O): 2 CuO + CO --> Cu2O + CO2.  Under normal firing conditions, this reaction does not occur, but when a reducing environment is created (wet wood on the fire, for example, will produce high CO), this reaction takes place and the cuprous oxide is red, bright red.  That's the desired tone.

There are two problems that can occur in the firing process:
1) There is a 2nd reaction: Cu2O + CO --> 2 Cu + CO2 (i.e. if not controlled your nice cuprous oxide and thus your red color is gone).

2) You need to be able to make a well controlled reducing environment.

The trick is to stop after the first reaction. This can be partially achieved by adding extra ingredients to the glaze mixture, an art virtually lost after the Ming dynasty.

See the Gotheborg List for 'A Discussion of Underglaze Copper Red, Iron Red, and How Manganese Oxide is Used' at: http://www.gotheborg.com/qa/manganese_red.shtml

Dragon Pillar Bottle: Underglaze Cobalt Blue and Cooper Red Design.
This dragon design expresses the issues with the use of copper red.  The firing environment around the bottom of the bottle was better than the top.  The cooper red hi-lights are almost completely washed out in the top half of the bottle. 

The Bottle has a concentric ring base typical of pillar bottles.  Height is a taller one at 10.8 cm, or just under 4 inches.  I believe this bottle is a later example of this design circa 1850 to 1920.   





A New Acquisition And Charll's Friday Night Bottle
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 04:13:35 pm by Bottle Guy » Report Spam   Logged

Charll K Stoneman, Eureka, California USA, Collector Since 1979.

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Wattana
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2013, 09:46:58 am »

Charll,

Thanks for sharing this information about under-glaze copper-red. I was completely unaware there was a process other than iron-red for achieving reds. I like the bottle - the design has a fluidity to it that is quite different from most pillar dragon bottles.
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Tom
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George
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2013, 07:39:52 pm »

Really an interesting and informative post Charll....

Congratulations on the new and beautiful dragon bottle too  !
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Pat - 查尚杰
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2013, 07:51:52 pm »

The bottle is very nice.. so crisp.. but the shape of it is unlike anything I have seen.
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joearp
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2013, 02:21:53 pm »

Like this bottle Charll,especially the shape. Glad you got it for your collection.  I almost bid on it,but was not truly convinced that it was not a modern copy.  So I am happy it found a good home at your house.  Enjoy!!!! Jo
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georges
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2013, 03:59:54 pm »

Beautiful bottle, Charli! Could "normal" dragon pillar bottles and this one have been produces at the same workshop? The head of the dragon looks very familiar, the shape not at all!

Georges
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deelsb26
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« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2013, 06:00:21 pm »

Beautiful bottle Charll
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Danna
rpfstoneman
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2013, 07:21:02 pm »

Georges,

Quote
Could "normal" dragon pillar bottles and this one have been produces at the same workshop?

To address this question would take someone with more knowledge on the workshops and their outputs than me.  I would speculate 'yes'.  But what is normal?  There appears to be more of a trend in the style these bottles, but bottles categorized as pillar bottles can very quite widely in bottle and painting design. There appears to be only three universal characteristics in this bottle series; 1) column body, 2) concentric ring base, and 3) a dragon design of some type. These were likely made over a 120-160 year period, and would thus also vary with time.

Charll 
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Charll K Stoneman, Eureka, California USA, Collector Since 1979.

Joey
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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2013, 01:41:25 pm »

Charll,
  It's a stunning bottle, but I have doubts about its age. I'd date it later (1980-2010).
   I've never seen a blue dragon with red scales, though I've seen (and have) a red dragon with blue eyes (#18, 19, 20), and I have 2 blue dragons with a red mouth (#21 & 22). And the red in the pot and in the dragon's ruff seem 'too good' for the old style firing.
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

rpfstoneman
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« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2013, 06:03:41 pm »

Joey,

This is why I love the forum, for it allows more eyes of view for different perspectives and shared collecting experiences.  What I found interesting about the pillar bottle with copper red hi-lights is that the firing environment was not controlled well from the bottom to the top.  The copper red is progressively washed out as you move up the bottle from the bottom.  Firing of this bottle under contemporary times could have been done in either by wood/charcoal, or any number of natural materials, or even in an electric kiln which can provide complete firing control. 

A contemporary age is possible. But two points of observation, first, if contemporary there is greater opportunity to control the firing environment and one could expect see a more uniform red coloration as seen on other contemporary blue and copper red bottles that are been on the market today.   Second, to date I have not seen any contemporary dragon pillar bottles. 

This bottle was purchased from a Florida auction house and was reported to be in the collection from one of the founding members of the ICSBS.  I tried in vain to have the auction house release the name of the collector, but they were requested not too.  Now this information has no bearing on the likely age of the bottle, but can provided credence that the bottle could be older.

Charll
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Charll K Stoneman, Eureka, California USA, Collector Since 1979.

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« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2013, 07:51:44 pm »

I agree with Charll 's observation.  Smiley and a beautiful bottle as well.
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Joey
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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2013, 10:42:49 am »

Dear Charll,
    I didn't see the difference in the colour of the copper red, and thought it WAS uniform. If it is NOT, and I accept that you have a better ability to judge that then me (since you can hold it, and I can't!), then I would change my dating suggestion to 1880-1920.
    Regardless, it's a stunning bottle.
  Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

georges
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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2013, 11:12:38 am »

Hi,  you might know that I adore dragons. Here is the last one I bought in underglazed copper red. What do the experts think about it? It has blue eyes!

Georges


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Joey
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2013, 12:09:21 pm »

Georges,
    Blue eyes are a plus (at least to us Middle Easterners!), but I can't tell if the copper red fired perfectly evenly, in which case it is probably modern, since today the electric kilns can be micro-managed to produce perfect firing temps., or more idiosyncratic, based on an inability to fire exactly, and then it could be older. It looks like a beautiful dragon from 1860-1900, since the scales are cross-hatched with a wash, and not individually painted.
   No offense, Georges, but one eye looks 'squinty'; if it was an Ultra-Orthodox Jew, it would have a harder time finding a match from the 'shadchan' (matchmaker)!  Wink Cheesy
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

georges
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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2013, 03:01:05 pm »

Thanks, Joey,

 Bernard Lavergne in Paris, where I bought it, thought is was slightly older (first half of the century) but a second opinion is always useful.

Georges
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2013, 04:00:28 pm »

Georges,
   I know Bernard Lavergne, having met him in Brussels at an Asian Arts Expo, and at functions of the ICSBS. He's basically pretty good, but from reading my catalogue (which I didn't write - Robert Kleiner did, and he is considered quite an expert in underglazed porcelains, and was also mentored by John Ault,  arguably the premier collector of underglazed porcelain snuff bottles), I get the idea that the bottles where the dragon's scales are just cross-hatched with a colour wash over (#6 in blue; #20 in red) are ca. 1860-1900,  or possibly 1850-1890.
   Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

Wattana
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« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2013, 09:36:15 pm »

Joey,

I think, if you look very carefully at the dragon's scales on George's bottle, they are not cross-hatched, but painted as individual scallops laid one over the other. Admittedly, they are very well lined up, giving the impression of simple cross-hatch at first glance.
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Tom
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« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2013, 09:53:25 pm »

Nice detective job Tom L,

I was almost fooled by my eyes, it was really painted one by one.

Steven
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Pat - 查尚杰
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« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2013, 10:01:37 pm »

As I stated before, I really think this is an exceptional bottle.  Just love the style, the detail, the shape, the crispness...
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Pat
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Fiveroosters
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« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2013, 01:34:17 am »

Dear Tom,
I too have seen that the scales are individually painted, and was going to write on this yesterday, but actually I didn't for a silly reason: I do not like the face of that dragon. I know I am biased on this because my reference are dragons painted on much bigger porcelain ware.
Dear Charll, I like very much your bottle. Are you sure that the copper red of the upper part of the bottle is misfired? I suppose that it can just be matter of being the dots in the scales painted in more light way, I mean more diluted enamel. I think so because the tone of the red there is the same that you can see in the lower part of the bottle too, where the density of the color is lighter. For example the end of the hairs.
Giovanni
« Last Edit: February 27, 2015, 05:17:30 pm by Fiveroosters » Report Spam   Logged

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