2 October 2020 until 20 March 2022
Made in China! Porcelain

Made in China – a label that is ubiquitous in today’s consumer world. Years ago, China replaced Germany as the world champion exporter and the USA as the largest trading nation. But China’s best-selling export, unsurpassed for millennia, is not a T-shirt, smartphone, or computer, but porcelain. The so-called white gold has a history going back more than 3,000 years. Europe did not succeed at developing its own formula for porcelain until the early eighteenth century, with far-reaching consequences for the global porcelain trade. Blue and white porcelain from the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) and colourful seventeenth-century porcelain of the famille rose and famille verte varieties enjoyed great popularity at European courts. What is it that makes porcelain so special that princes, emperors, and kings have been mad about it for thousands of years and billionaires today still pay record sums for top pieces? How did Chinese porcelain reach Hamburg and the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG)? Based on more than 150 exhibits from its outstanding porcelain collection, MKG attempts to answer questions like these. The exhibition Made in China! Porcelain features exquisite unique pieces and high-quality tableware from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1644–1911), including both imperial porcelain and export goods. The presentation of pieces ranging from proto-porcelain bowls that are over 1,000 years old to monumental vases from the nineteenth century demonstrates the course of technical and artistic developments while shedding light on aspects such as materiality, function and quality and tracing global trends and the trade routes travelled by these objects.

Made in China! Porcelain takes place as part of a project for scientific research into the East Asia Collection that is sponsored by the Zeit-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius.

Bowl with lotus decor, Qing Dynasty, Yongzheng Era (1723–35), glazed porcelain, glaze colours of the famille rose, H 5,4 cm, D 11,8 cm, MKG, photo: Jörg Arend