LONDON - Tang Ying (1682-1756) was undoubtedly the most innovative and talented presence in China’s porcelain industry during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). His background appears unglamorous at first: a descendant of a bondservant and belonging to one of the three Banners directly under the control of the emperor. However, this upbringing allowed him privileged access to the Imperial collection of porcelains, paintings and decorative objects.

At the age of sixteen Tang started his career at the Neiwufu (Imperial Household Department) in the Forbidden City, Beijing. The palace presented him with the opportunity to study its collections, which laid the foundation for his future endeavours. He combined classical shapes and treasured types with developments in porcelain production to produce wares that were both innovative and steeped in tradition – to the delight of the emperors he served from 1726 until the time of his death, Yongzheng (r. 1723-35) and Qianlong (r. 1736-95).


A Fine Famille-Rose Enamelled Sgraffiato-Ground Ovoid Chrysanthemum and Peony’ Vase. Qianlong Seal Mark and Period. Estimate £200,000-300,000.

Tang can be credited with the introduction of various new porcelain eccentricities such as revolving vessels and trompe l’oeil porcelains. Such vessels were created to satisfy the Qianlong Emperor’s taste for the novel and imperial records show Qianlong habitually asked Tang to design special pieces for him.

In anticipation of our Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art sale at Sotheby’s London on 14 May, we are hosting Literati Taste of Supervisor Tang Ying: A Study Based on Newly Discovered Ceramics He Commissioned, an exciting and timely lecture by May Huang. A lecturer at the School of Ceramic Art, Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, May Huang (Huang Wei) teaches courses on the history of Chinese ceramics as well as world ceramics. She holds an M.A. degree from Peking University and has published numerous articles including several for the journal Wenwu. She has extensive field experience with archaeological excavations, and in 2008 and 2013 received the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute’s award of Exemplary Teacher. She has repeatedly been invited to lecture to the OCS, London, the Hong Kong OCS, and the Min Chiu Society, Hong Kong.

Literati Taste of Supervisor Tang Ying: 
A Study Based on Newly Discovered Ceramics He Commissioned
Sunday 11th May at 3:45pm
Venue: Sotheby’s London, 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1A 2AA
Admission is free but places are limited and booking essential.

RSVP: helen.desmond@sothebys.com or phone 020 7293 6442.

Tags:Auctions, Events, Chinese Works of Art, London