During the 18th century, Europeans provided an eager market for Chinese export porcelain, especially the colorful and fanciful ware known as “famille rose.” Named for a palette of opaque overglaze enamels that favored roses and pinks, famille rose porcelain ware was crafted with the same technical virtuosity as imperial porcelain but designed for Western tastes.
This round porcelain ginger jar decorated in style of famille rose or famille verte enamelware, with a palette of fuchsia, orange, and emerald green enamels. The jar is hand-painted with a celebratory outdoor parade of young boys leading a mythical qilin. Also known as kirin or Chinese unicorns, qilin are chimeric animals from Chinese mythology thought to be good omens and potent symbols of joy, longevity, prosperity, and wisdom.
The motif of a boy riding a qilin conveys a wish for many sons and was traditionally depicted on wedding presents and bedroom decoration. In this example, the qilin is being ridden by the "First Scholar," adding a wish for a son of rank and honor. The triumphant procession is surrounded by boys carrying lanterns, parasols, and banners.
From the collection of Frances and Gary Comer.