The exhibition will show more than 200 beautiful and characteristic pieces. Accompanying the items on display, there will be brief outlines of the period in which the item was made, of its special features, and the position it assumed in the total assortment of export porcelain destined for the Netherlands. Various objects will be on show for the very first time.
Diverse types of porcelain will be exhibited, such as Kraak porcelain, Transition (Late Ming) porcelain, Kangxi blue-and-white, Chine de Commande, Famille Rose, Mandarin, Blanc de Chine and Yixing. In addition, the Groninger Museum has an enviable collection of porcelain from shipwrecks. Several examples of these documentary pieces will be on display. Finally, there is a series of figures of Chinese gods and philosophers, of figures for the European market, and of slender Chinese women, the so-called 'Lange Lijzen'.
Almost all of this porcelain – dating from the 17th and 18th centuries – was shipped from China to the Netherlands by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) or by private traders. The composition of the material and the manufacturing process were a mystery. Porcelain was exotic, relatively expensive and therefore enhanced the status of the owner. The secret of porcelain-making was discovered in Germany in the early 18th century, and subsequently Chinese porcelain had to compete with European porcelain. The price then decreased and the assortment of decorations and forms expanded enormously. Archaeological excavations indicate that almost everyone in the Netherlands had a porcelain object in his or her house. Even today it is not uncommon. Chinese porcelain formed an essential element of the Dutch interior, more than anywhere else in the world.
With more than 10,000 items, the Groninger Museum has one of the largest collections of Chinese porcelain in the Netherlands. A part of the collection has been laid out in the Menkemaborg (estate house) in Uithuizen. Selections from the collection are regularly shown in the Starck Pavilion, and there is close co-operation with other museums, such as the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, and the Princessehof Museum of Ceramics in Leeuwarden. Thanks to sponsors and donors, the collection is still expanding.
Porcelain expert and former Museum curator Christiaan Jörg compiled this exhibition.