The Qing Dynasty was the final imperial dynasty in China, lasting from 1644 to 1912. The period between the Ming and the Qing although one of political turmoil produced some interesting and beautifully painted porcelain and new shapes. However, during the following Kangxi and Yongzheng reigns it is arguable that the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen made some of the finest porcelain of all time. The Kangxi Emperor reigned from 1662 to 1722, and in this sixty year period, he encouraged engagement with traditional arts, music and practices associated with the literati scholars of the past. As is so often the case, contextual political developments are reflected in porcelain design, and the Kangxi Emperor's 'renaissance' and fostering of traditional culture to create an atmosphere of stability resulted in the popularity of ceramics relating to ancient China and scholarly pursuits. For example, brushpots (a literati utensil) became popular among gentleman porcelain collectors of this period keen to demonstrate their intellectual superiority, and designs also often incorporated symbolism associated with an idealised scholarly lifestyle. The elevated forms and skilled designs of Kangxi porcelain continues to attract the most discerning collectors of porcelain to this day.
Recommended reading: - Christiaan J.A. Jorg, 'Chinese Ceramics in the Collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam' (Rijksmuseum: Amsterdam, 1997) - William R. Sargent, 'Treasures of Chinese Export Ceramics from the Peabody Essex Musuem' (Peabody Essex Museum: Massachusetts, 2012)