Vase Depicting a Phoenixlike Bird

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Talavera poblana
Puebla, Mexico

Vase Depicting a Phoenixlike Bird, 1700/50

Tin-glazed earthenware
H. 49 cm (19 1/4 in.)
Gift of Eva Lewis in memory of her husband, Herbert Pickering Lewis, 1923.1445

Chinese blue-and-white porcelain arrived in the Americas during the 1570s, when the Manila Galleons began crossing the Pacific Ocean from Mexico to the Spanish Philippines and back. Cargoes of Asian luxury goods landing at Acapulco were transshipped to Colonial Mexico City and Puebla, where they remained until shipment continued across the Atlantic Ocean to Seville. A thriving ceramic industry developed in Puebla, producing glazed earthenware imitating porcelain and freely adapting Chinese designs, often with humorous vitality. This vase of Chinese shape displays panels with phoenix-like birds framed by dot-and-leaf patterns, scrolled tendrils, and semicircular “Chinese asters” beneath a cloudlike canopy. Floral bands on the shoulder and footing of the jar similarly reflect decorations derived from blue-and-white export porcelain.

— Special exhibition label, Silk Road and Beyond.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Art Institute of Chicago, The Silk Road and Beyond: Travel, Trade, and Transformation, Sept. 30, 2006–Apr. 22, 2007.

Ownership History

Herbert Pickering Lewis (1876–1922), Mexico, from late 19th/early 20th century [correspondence in curatorial file]; by descent to his wife, Eva Lewis (died c. 1964), Mexico; given to the Art Institute, 1923.