Arts and Culture
Previous studies revealed that France and Britain played the leading roles in trading, collecting and studying Chinese ceramics in the nineteenth-century Europe, which was only possible with the availability and influx of objects. The termination of the European East India Companies’ monopoly augmented the commercial transactions of private traders, while the forced opening of China after the two Opium Wars dramatically changed the scale of things for exchange; also, the nature of object became more diverse. Consequently, Chinese porcelains in the French art market, then leading marketplace for foreign goods as well as taste, formed a representative locality of the specialized market at that time.
How to define this locality of nineteenth-century French global art market for Chinese porcelain? To answer the question, this paper investigates the trading routes of porcelain from China to France, the marketplaces for selling the commodities, the buyers and end consumers of Chinese porcelain, and some types of their most prized objects, such as polychrome ware, the so called sang de bœuf and so on. Based on concrete archival research of French import-export company records, archives of the Chambers of Commerce, and Parisian sales catalogues of Chinese porcelain, the paper will contribute to understanding the role of French art market in the shaping of collecting, appreciating, and writing about Chinese ceramics, in order to reveal the local mechanism of trade that reflected the leading global trends for Chinese ceramics.