Week 8 Response: Willow Plate

I felt that this plate was interesting in several ways, and it opened my eyes to some of the realities of colonial era export art, a departure from traditional understanding of items behind a glass case.

The weight of the plate was the most intriguing factor; in my personal experiences with blue-and-white porcelain, most of them were relatively heavy. However upon closer inspection the plate was not made from traditional high-tier porcelain, as tapping it did not have the typical crisp ringing one would get. It became obvious that the plate was likely part of a mass-produced set of plates, as the art itself was also not of the highest quality – the circular patterns around the plate itself did not fully loop back onto itself, and some of the side decorations were unequal.

The lack of high quality in both decoration and material led me to conclude that it was part of a mass-produced export set meant for foreign markets, which was quite eye-opening. Traditionally museums only show the highest quality pieces, but the piece we saw in week 8 exposed me to a dimension of colonial art that while being of a lower standard, would have defined most of the era’s trade and exports, as well as the realities of export artisanship.

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