An exhibition of 19th and 20th century Japanese blue and white porcelain is on view now through Dec. 16 at the Hartnell College Gallery.
The 50 pieces are a recent gift to the gallery's permanent collection by Al Schoepf and Earl Seymour, emeritus Hartnell faculty members. Most of the items are serving pieces such as relish dishes, bowls and sake cups.
The exhibit is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 5 to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday.
Assembled over several decades, the collection contains examples of highly prized items that were found in galleries from San Francisco to Los Angeles, according to Gary Smith, gallery director. "This fine group of porcelain," says Smith, "joins other examples of traditional Japanese art at Hartnell, including netsuke (miniature carved toggles) from the Mrs. Leslie Fenton Collection and folk-art from the Robert Skiles Collection.
The collection of smooth white porcelain decorated with cobalt blue lines has a long and venerable history in Asia. High quality cobalt from the Near East first made its appearance in China during the Yuan Dynasty (1260-1368) and its popularity grew during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) when patterns and techniques were further refined.
Attempts to duplicate the fine pure kaolin clay found in natural deposits in China spread through Asia and to Europe. One of the most vital of these offshoots took root in Japan when, in the 1600s, Korean artists working in Japan found deposits of kaolin clay and began production of porcelain decorated with cobalt at Arita, Nabeshima and Imari on Kyushu Island. The tradition is still alive and vigorous in many ceramic centers in Japan.
The new porcelain collection contains refined pieces that carefully emulate Chinese models - even coping the imperial reign marks of the most famous of the Ching Dynasty emperors. Others show the gradual assimilation of designs expressing more typical Japanese characteristics of strong compositions and bolder brushwork. Two small vessels made for export to Europe or North America reflect the taste and style of the Art Nouveau movement.
The gallery is located in the Visual Arts Building on West Alisal Street, close to the college's swimming pool. Parking is available on campus for $1 (four quarters).
For more information, contact Gary Smith at (831) 755-6791.