A Millennium of Monochromes

Laure Schwartz-Arenales et al.

392 pp., 240 col. ill., Geneva/Milan, 2018, CHF 105.-

More than any other civilisation, China has won renown through its long tradition of ceramic production, from its terracotta and stoneware works in ancient times to the imperial porcelain manufactured at Jingdezhen from the end of the fourteenth century. These refined works have always been admired and collected for their outstanding quality. Two hundred masterpieces from prominent private collections around the world have been brought together for the first time in Europe. The Baur collections in Geneva, formed between 1928 and 1951, and the Zhuyuetang collection (the Bamboo and Moon Pavilion in Hong Kong), which has been built up since the late 1980s, reveal the elegance and variety of imperial monochrome porcelain wares produced during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties, which followed on from the Tang (618–907) and Song (960–1279) periods. These apparently restrained pieces, which partake of both the profane and the sacred, testify the return to the values of simplicity and modesty advocated by classical texts. Situating the works in their historical, cultural and technical contexts, this exhibition and its catalogue are a reference on Chinese monochrome ceramics for all lovers of the subject, as well as students, researchers and connoisseurs.