Sea Sculpture thumbnail 1
Sea Sculpture thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 145

Sea Sculpture

ca. 1725 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This object was salvaged from the wreck of a trade ship thought to be a Chinese junk, dating to approximately 1725. This corresponds to the reign of the Kangxi emperor (1662-1722) of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The wreck was discovered off the Southern coast of Vietnam in 1998 near Ca Mau and is now commonly referred to as the Ca Mau wreck. The ship was carrying Chinese porcelain of various designs for export to South Asia and Europe. This object is one of a group of 182 pieces of porcelain acquired by the V&A from the wreck.

This object as it exists now as a so-called 'sea-sculpture' was created through accident and nature. A number of underglaze blue decorated porcelain pieces were fused together by a fire on board the ship, which was possibly the cause of the wreck. The corals and shells grew on these fused pieces whilst they lay on the seabed. The component pieces of porcelain were mass produced in Jingdezhen, Southern China in the early 18th century.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Underglaze of cobalt blue decorated porcelain pieces fused together by fire with encrusted with shell and coral growths
Brief Description
Comprised of several underglaze blue decorated porcelain fragments, large shells and coral.
Physical Description
Formed of several pieces of underglaze blue decorated porcelain, including a spittoon and the neck section of a vase. The pieces are fused together and are encrusted with shells and coral.
Dimensions
  • Height: 17cm
  • Width: 22cm
Styles
Production typeMass produced
Gallery Label
Spittoon fused to a stack of tea bowls and the neck of a vase China, Jingdezhen, about 1725 These pieces became distorted and fused together by a fire on board, which was probably the cause of the wreck. Museum no. FE.7-2007
Object history
This object was salvaged from the wreck of a trade ship, probably a Chinese junk dating to approximately 1725. This date corresponds to the reign of the Kangxi emperor (1662-1722) of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The wreck was discovered off the Southern coast of Vietnam in 1998 near Ca Mau. The wreck is now commonly referred to as the Ca Mau wreck. By 1999 a total of 51,500 pieces had been recovered form the wreck.



It was loaded with Chinese porcelain of various designs for export to South Asia and Europe. This object is one of a group of 182 pieces of porcelain acquired by the V&A from this wreck.



These objects were sold through Sotheby's, Amsterdam at sale AM0967 'Made in Imperial China: 76,000 pieces of export porcelain from the Ca Mau shipwreck, Circa 1725' which took place in 2007.



Historical significance: This object provides useful information about trade, trade routes, design and markets for Chinese porcelain.
Production
Attribution note: The component pieces of porcelain were mass produced in Jingdezhen, Southern China. This object as it exists now as a so-called 'sea-sculpture' was created through accident and nature. These objects were fused together by a fire on board the ship, which was possibly the cause of the wreck. The corals and shells grew on these fused pieces whilst they lay on the seabed.
Summary
This object was salvaged from the wreck of a trade ship thought to be a Chinese junk, dating to approximately 1725. This corresponds to the reign of the Kangxi emperor (1662-1722) of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The wreck was discovered off the Southern coast of Vietnam in 1998 near Ca Mau and is now commonly referred to as the Ca Mau wreck. The ship was carrying Chinese porcelain of various designs for export to South Asia and Europe. This object is one of a group of 182 pieces of porcelain acquired by the V&A from the wreck.



This object as it exists now as a so-called 'sea-sculpture' was created through accident and nature. A number of underglaze blue decorated porcelain pieces were fused together by a fire on board the ship, which was possibly the cause of the wreck. The corals and shells grew on these fused pieces whilst they lay on the seabed. The component pieces of porcelain were mass produced in Jingdezhen, Southern China in the early 18th century.
Collection
Accession Number
FE.7-2007

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record createdNovember 20, 2008
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