Staff Research



WAN Chui Ki Maggie




RGC General Research Fund 14609018

This project seeks to investigate the emergence and development of ‘Canton enamel’ or Guangdong falang 廣東琺瑯 in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) with special attention to its production and distribution pattern. Major issues to be dealt with are: (1) the stylistic differences among imperial wares, export wares and those designated for national and local circulation; (2) the collection and distribution history of these wares in overseas markets; and (3) the artistic affiliation between Canton enamel metalwares and enamel porcelain wares or Guangcai 廣彩, another outstanding craft produced in Guangdong during the Qing Dynasty. ‘Canton enamels’ designate a specific type of enamel metalwares produced in the Guangdong region. They mainly consist of painted enamels and Basse-taille enamels. Inspired by painted enamelware imported from Europe, workshops in Guandong pioneered in the production of enamel metalware as early as in the Kangxi reign (1662-1722) and had in fact, provided technical and human resources support to zaobanchu造辦處, the Palace Workshop in Beijing, the Qing Capital. The emergence of Canton enamels, thus, was critical to the development of enamel works made from various materials in Qing China. The project probes into the production, distribution, and trading mechanism of Canton enamels through the Qing Dynasty. Further, it examines how the artistic style of Canton enamels varied with different target consumers and through different periods. It also considers the connections between Canton enamel metalwares and Canton enamel porcelain wares, and the impact of the former on overseas art markets. Its aim is to unveil how Guangdong interacted with Beijing, other Chinese provinces and foreign countries in terms of art, culture and economy during the Qing Dynasty.