Blanc de Chine Porcelain :
The porcelain known in the West as Blanc de Chine was produced 300 miles south of the main Chinese kiln complex of Jingdezhen. The term refers to the fine grain white porcelain made at the kilns situated near Dehua in the coastal province of Fujian, these kilns also produced other types of porcelain. A rather freely painted blue and white ware, porcelain with brightly coloured `Swatow` type enamels as well as pieces with a brown iron-rich glaze. However it is the white blanc de Chine wares that have made these kilns famous. The quality and colour achieved by the Dehua potters was partly due to the local porcelain stone, it was unusually pure and was used without kaolin being added. This, combined with a low iron content and other chemical factors within the body as well as the glaze, enabled the potters to produce superb ivory-white porcelain.
Blanc de Chine Adam and Eve Figures :
A group of Blanc de chine porcelain models of of standing semi-naked figures on oval rusticated bases have traditionally been referred to as Adam and Eve. This is possibly because their clothing is so scant and simple they can be seen as having a passing resemblance to images of Adam and Eve in Western art. But as David Freedman points out in S.Marchant & Son`s 1985 catalogue of an exhibition of blanc de chine “.. there is no doubt that the face and hair-style are Chinese and there is nothing to suggest a European model”. European models were used as prototypes for blanc de chine figures but they always have something to betray their Western origin, indeed that was the point, as they were made for the West. It is more likely these figures depict an indigenous or foreign ethnic group in China. Although appearing to be made as a pair it is curious that there are more male figures than female one in existence. The variation among these figures is minimal, the method of production is also very similar, that and the fact they are uncommon all point to a short production period. They were produced at Dehua in Fujian province during the reign of Kangxi, somewhere between c.1690 and 1710. References :
For a Kangxi Blanc de Chine figure like this dated to c.1690 see : Exhibition of Blanc de Chine (S.Marchant & Son, Exhibition Catalogue December 1985) page 30, plate 53.
For a pair of Blanc de Chine porcelain figures, one of which is the same as the present example see : Exhibition of Blanc de Chine (S.Marchant & Son, Exhibition catalogue June 1994) page 30, plate 20.
A Pair male and female Blanc de Chine figures, described as “Adam and Eve” are illustrated in : Blanc de Chine (P.J. Donnelly, Faber and Faber, 1969 (ISBN 571-08078-2) plate 121c.
For a pair of male and female blanc de chine porcelain figures from this group see : Blanc de Chine, Divine Images in Porcelain (John Ayres, China Institute Gallery, New York, 2002) page 104, plate 55.
A Comparative Example
‘Adam and Eve’
Kangxi Period c.1700
Blanc de Chine Porcelain From Dehua in Fujian Province