Blue and white pottery includes a wide range of white pottery and porcelain that is decorated under the glaze with a blue pigment, generally cobalt oxide. The decorative designs are usually applied by hand, traditionally by brush painting. Look at the related porcelain pieces from Asia and use the following discussion prompts to explore examples of blue and white pottery with your class:
- Looking at the time and place of creation, how would these pieces have been used when they were first created? What clues can you see in the artwork about where it was made, who by, and why?
- What are the key motifs (or ideas) expressed in these paintings on porcelain? What do they have in common and how are they different?
- Describe the quality and character of the lines evident in the decorative design painted on one of the pieces.
Are the lines thick or thin? Are they continuous or broken? In which direction do they move? How do they guide your eye around the piece?
- Look for areas of tonal variation. Discuss why the artist applied the underglaze blue lightly in some areas and darker in others. What effect has this approach had on the overall presentation of the design?
- Which tools and techniques might the artist have used to achieve the aesthetic qualities in their painted designs?