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With a little help from its friends…

Updated: Feb 16

This covered cider jug seems to have gotten (more than) a little help from somebody.

It started life as a typical blue and white Nanking /Canton piece.

Somewhere along the way its decoration was “enhanced” by painting new colors and patterns over the original. Likely, this was to make it more marketable, either because its original decoration was considered out of date or because the new decoration was considered more attractive.

In her book “European Decoration on Oriental Porcelain 1700 – 1830”, Helen Espir attributes this style of overdecoration to English artisans during the period 1780 -1830.

She is not very sympathetic, writing:

“[The over-decoration] is generally garish and so overwhelming that it gave rise to the term 'clobbered ' and the poor reputation from which all over-decorated Chinese porcelain has suffered since the late 19th century.”

Taste is a fickle thing, and “garish” to one person may well be “fashionable” to another. Because so many blue and white Nanking and Canton pieces were over-decorated in this style, someone must have found them attractive.

For myself, while too many of these clobbered pieces in one setting can be overwhelming, a single piece, like this cider jug, properly situated can be an attractive focal point.

“De gustibus non est disputandum” and all that.

R.J. Ruble

Ericsson Street Antiques

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