The Chinese porcelain collection at The Frick Pittsburgh is one of extraordinary breadth and quality, containing examples created for the imperial court, domestic trade, and the export market. Chinese porcelains were a key addition to Henry Clay Frick’s collecting in the early 1900s, when he was actively seeking decorative arts that matched the superb quality of his painting collection. Primarily purchased from Duveen Brothers and Cottier and Company, Frick’s collection of porcelains includes several objects previously owned by financier and collector J. P. Morgan as well as a delightful collection of miniature porcelains from the estate of ceramics connoisseur George B. Warren.
The western obsession with Chinese porcelain stretches back to the 1400s, when blue-and-white wares began arriving in Europe in great quantities. Porcelain became a powerful symbol of wealth, status, and power, and collecting porcelain remained fashionable for centuries. Most of the examples in our collection date to the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912), often considered the pinnacle of ceramic production in China. Chinese porcelain production has a long history of experimentation and innovation, and the Qing rulers were avid patrons of the arts, which flourished in many forms during their reign.