A Pair of Rare 18th Century Chinese Export Porcelain Canisters

Qianlong c.1750

A Pair of Rare Qianlong Blue and White Soft-Paste Porcelain Canisters c.1750. These Chine de Commande canisters have a blank label with Baroque strapwork borders surrounded by flowering peony, peony is also shown on one of the sides and hibiscus on the other. These Chinese export canisters are made of Chinese soft-paste porcelain, there was a renewed interest in this material in the mid-18th century. The Chinese used it for moulded forms such as sauceboats and tea canisters, this group of soft-paste porcelain is mostly extremely finely decorated and uses very high quality cobalt, as do the present examples. The Chinese are known to have charged more for soft-paste than hard-paste porcelain, which is peculiar in that the countries they were exporting to were trying to make hard-paste porcelain. The origins of labels on ceramics, blank or inscribed, goes back to at least the late Medieval period in Southern Europe, larger jars and canisters were often used in monastic pharmacies where the contents could be indicated. In the 18th century some English porcelain tea canisters had the name of the tea written on by the potter, Lowestoft porcelain is an example of this practice. The present examples are very rare but I once owned another pair that were rather damaged, that must have been over twenty years ago. This type is peculiar in that they didn’t have covers. I still don’t know what they were meant to contain, if anyone knows I would be very pleased to hear from you. One canister is very slightly paler than the other.


In very good condition, small rim chips and fritting. Like most Chinese soft-paste porcelain there is some crazing.
Height 11.3 cm (4 1/2 inches)
Stock number