Plate with Carp

Period: Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)

Date: mid-14th century

Culture: China

Medium: Porcelain painted with cobalt blue under transparent glaze (Jingdezhen ware)

Dimensions: Diam. 18 in. (45.7 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Purchase, Mrs. Richard E. Linburn Gift, 1987

Accession Number: 1987.10


This splendid plate is an especially strong example of a distinctive group of heavily potted mid-fourteenth-century Chinese blue-and-white porcelains. It is charged with vitality. With unerring strokes of his cobalt-tipped brush, the artist has managed to portray a fish (probably a sea perch) swimming with great exuberance among aquatic plants. In the cavetto, the freely drawn lotus scroll—with its distinctive spiky leaves—is quite lively; the painting of the blossoms is particularly well done. The base of the plate is unglazed, and the unglazed body has burned a typical reddish brown.

The attribution of this plate and kindred wares is based on a pair of blue-and-white vases dated 1351 in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art in London. A fourteenth-century attribution was further confirmed in the early 1970s with the discovery of a large number of broken plates of this type in the ruins of a palace in Delhi that was destroyed in 1398. Recent finds at the Hutian kiln complex at Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province document the area in which this type of porcelain was produced.