MIL-OSI China: Shanghai display bridges East and West


Source: China State Council Information Office 3

The painting The Annunciation by Portuguese artist Garcia Fernandes, created around 1535, depicts the story of the Archangel Gabriel telling the Virgin Mary that she is to have a child.
On a ledge between the pair stands a pot of lilies, which according to experts at the Shanghai Museum is typical of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain.
Lotus leaf designs on the shoulder and bottom of the pot, and a fish and algae pattern in the center, are depicted. These characteristics are examples of a pot probably made in Jingdezhen, in modern-day Jiangxi province, during the Jiajing period (1522-66) of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
The Annunciation is one of three original works and more than a dozen replicas of renowned paintings on display at the Shanghai Museum in which Chinese porcelain features in Western art. The replicas include The Feast of Gods by Giovanni Bellini.
Visitors can see how such porcelain was used and treated after it was exported to the West, where it figured prominently in social life.
Titled West Encounters East: A Cultural Conversation Between Chinese and European Ceramics, the exhibition is being jointly staged by the Shanghai Museum and the Musee National des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet in Paris.
Yang Zhigang, director of the Shanghai Museum, said the display features artifacts from a total of 12 museums and institutions from seven countries. Being staged from Oct 29 to Jan 16, it is the largest project at the museum to involve extensive international collaboration since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also a great example of solidarity among the global museum community, Yang added.
The exhibition features a total of 206 important ceramic items and oil paintings that depict the stories of early trade and cultural exchanges between China and Europe.
Chen Jie, who researches exported ceramics at the Shanghai Museum, said that in the 15th century, new routes were found for vessels sailing between Europe and Asia, bringing significant changes to trading between East and West, and ushering in the Age of Exploration.
Porcelain, one of the most important Chinese commodities, was sold overseas in huge quantities, Chen said. These sales were not only evidence of the booming trade between China and Europe in the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, but also of the exchanges of imagery, design, technology and ideas. In a cultural sense, porcelain is a medium for dialogue and interactions between East and West, she added.

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