My Interest in Chinese Porcelain
A visit to Sotheby’s in London
It all started with a lecture that I attended some years ago. In my attempts to discover the history of Chinese porcelain I entered a labyrinth of dynasties and remote locations in China, having especial difficulty with the pronunciation of names that proved to be impossible to remember. However, despite all this confusion, the rare beauty of the objects that I was looking at in the slides stimulated my interest to deepen my knowledge of them. This path required patience, attention to detail, time and dedication.
Firstly, with a map of China in hand, I immersed myself in the geography of the region and, more specifically, the location of the most important kilns of this vast country. Secondly, I tried to memorize the dynasties and pronounce them more correctly. Then I studied the respected production of each era while, simultaneously, observing the objects. I was looking at them in the books, through a lens, so intensely as to become completely exhausted, but still I persevered.
The next step was to go to London, more specifically to the British Museum, to visit room 33, hosting Chinese Art, and room 95, where the Sir Percival David collection - the most important Chinese porcelain collection outside of China - is located. Well protected inside their glass cases, the porcelains could only be described as exquisite in form, colour and design.
But I didn’t stop there. My path required me to attain the feeling of the priceless objects, to actually touch them, and that’s precisely what I did. I went to Sotheby’s. “Please, this one”, I said to the genteel lady, and she opened the glass case and put in my hands a little, sky blue glaze bowl of the Song Dynasty. That was the summit of the whole process for me. Touching this precious object was so much different than just looking at it. Light as a feather, as thin and delicate as a sheet of paper, perfect in its round form, it called me to cup it in my hands and gently caress it. Finally, I returned it to the lady and she carefully put it back in its case.
Curious, the next morning, I returned to Sotheby’s to attend the auction. The little bowl, radiant in its monochromy, was sold for ten times more than it had initially been valued. Who knows? Maybe to be returned to China?