A Fine Kangxi Porcelain Plate Decorated in the `Master of the Rocks` Style, c.1690-1700. Very Well Painted Winters Scene is of an Extensive Rocky Landscape on the Waters Edge with a Small Boat in the Foreground. The Right Side with Banked up with Rocky Mountainous Outcrops, Trees and Small Buildings. In the Center a Scholar Crosses a Land Bridge which Leads to another Rocky Area. The Border is of Pine. The Back is Decorated with Bamboo and the Base with One of the `Eight Treasures`, a Double Lozenge Representing Victory.
Repaired chips, to the front : c.11 x 3mm, c.7 x 4 mm, 8 x 3mm, 4 x 4mm. To the back 12 x 5mm, 7 x 4mm, 7 x 3mm. There is a small amount of fritting filled.
Diameter : 22 cm (8 3/4 inches)
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The Master of the Rocks Style :
The phrase Master of the Rocks is unfamiliar to many Chinese, it is another invented category used by western scholars and collectors to pigeon-hole groups of Chinese ceramics, rather like Kraakware or Celadon. However unlike either of these Master of the Rocks first coined by Gerald Reitlinger, is a clear, distinct group. This style lasted from about 1645 to 1690. The highly distinctive painting style consists of landscapes with massive powerful mountains in a linier technique. The style is, for want of a better word, ‘painterly’ and often includes distant mountains painted with a very wet brush that contrast with the linier mountains in the mid ground. The style usually employs a technique of blobby dots, either in the landscape or as a border. These dots are painted with a wet brush and have no outline. These designs were certainly inspired by late Ming scroll painters like Wang Jinazhng (active c.1628 – 1644). The same use of brush strokes in contour like parallels lines can be seen. Mountains with jagged peaks are piled up creating a dramatic structure. But where as many of the scroll painters are known, the ceramics artists are anonymous.
Later Master of the Rocks Style :
Master of the Rocks style porcelain is normally dated to the late Transitional or Early Kangxi Period in the reference books. We have followed this dating with all `Master of the Rocks` porcelain. But I now think plates of this type were made slightly later, after the re-opening of the kilns at Jingdezhen. When one compares the thin potting, rich watery blues and the milky white glaze of these plates to other `Master of the Rocks` pieces they appear quite different. The shape of the plate, thin potting, tones of blue and sheen of glaze relate to Kangxi Porcelain of the 1690`s not the earlier more robust, thickly potted `Master of the Rocks` pieces of the late Transitional or early Kangxi Period. The drawing of the Chenghua mark on the back is also very similar to Kangxi Porcelain of the 1690`s, for example the well know Rotterdam Riot plates of c.1692-1695 whose Chenghua Marks could even be by the same hand.