Five piece garniture
Chinese Blue and White Porcelain
Kangxi period (1662-1722)
Height: 43 cm
Prince M. de Beauvau - Craon Collection, France
In the 17thcentury, Europeans considered porcelain an exotic and rare material that only the upper classes could afford. Many royalty and noblility amassed large collections of Chinese and Japanese ceramics, installing them in rooms known as ‘Indian cabinets’. By the end of the 17th century, different Chinese shapes were combined after arrival in Europe to form new means of display. Jars, vases and plates were displayed on top of cabinets and along shelves.
This type of display developed into the best known example of such an arrangement, known as a garniture, comprising a combination of lidded jars and beaker vases. From the 1680’s these garniture de chininée would have been ordered to fit the new specifications so they could be more effortlessly displayed - slimmer versions of the shapes imported earlier in the 17th century.
Garnitures of vases were a popular decorative element in eighteenth-century interiors, placed on cabinets or on the floor. They usually comprised of an uneven number of jars alternated with beakers (3,5 or 7). The porcelain would be ordered by the Dutch East India company (VOC) in many multiples and put together by dealers in Europe once the shipment arrived from China.
Garnitures were also incorporated into elaborate interior design schemes such as those by Daniel Marot, who is famous for his massed displays using brackets and mirrors. Such ostentatious displays of Chinese porcelain would have been a testimony of the owners wealth and power.
Vanderven Oriental Art