In the 1700s and 1800s, decorative figures of animals were some of the most elaborate, exclusive and expensive pieces of porcelain exported from China to Europe.
But these figures are more than just pretty porcelain pets; they reflect Chinese traditions that see many animals as auspicious, meaning they symbolize good fortune. Chinese potters drew on these traditions when designing these figures, even though their symbolic significance was rarely understood by their original European owners.
These rare objects were prized decorations for grand European homes, and we can read them as documentation of the cultural and artistic interactions between China and Europe that were part of the China Trade.
This exhibit was made possible through the generous support of Felicia Warburg Rogan and Steve and Mary Lynn Marks.
This exhibit was curated by Amelia Lancaster, W&L Class of 2022, and Ron Fuchs II, senior curator