DATE: 19th century (made)
PLACE: China (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Painted enamel on copper alloy

Metal vessels painted in enamels were first produced in Limoges, France during the 15th century. With the arrival of French Jesuit missionaries in East Asia, the techniques and expertise were transmitted to China in the second half of the 17th century. In 1693, under Emperor Kangxi’s reign, specialised workshops were established in the Forbidden City to produce metal vessels finely painted in enamels for court use. Although originally referred to in China as ‘foreign porcelain’ (yangci 洋瓷), vast quantities of enamelled metal wares for both domestic and export markets were soon produced in private Cantonese workshops, from which the term ‘Canton enamel’ originates. The brightly coloured decoration is achieved by covering the surface of the metal vessel with a background layer of white enamel paste, which is fired to fuse the materials. The surface is then painted in coloured enamels and fired once more.