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Between Sea and Sky: Blue and White Ceramics from Persia and Beyond

December 2, 2020 – May 31, 2021
Audrey Jones Beck Building, 5601 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005. Tickets included with general admission.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, USA


Locally mined and traded across Islamic lands and the world, the minerals that created rare Persian blues were as precious as gold. This exhibition explores the abiding appeal of blue and white in Persian ceramics, which were revolutionised when cobalt blue from the Persian Gulf met ceramic shapes and techniques from China. Rarer Persian blues would also play a significant role, such as luxurious lapis lazuli and brilliant blue turquoise, but the synergy with Chinese inspiration spawned an unprecedented flourishing of shapes, techniques and coloured glazes in the 11th to 14th century.

To illustrate the impact of Chinese blue and white, the curators have picked three extraordinary examples of Chinese blue and white porcelain from the San Antonio Museum of Art for the section “Inspired by China”, which highlights the creative synthesis seen in 15th- to 17th-century Persian ceramics – Chinese dragons swirls effortlessly through clouds of Persian decorative motifs.

Also on view are pieces that illustrate how this new aesthetic would resonate down the centuries. Iconic pieces of blue and white English porcelain and delftware from the Rienzi and Bayou Bend collections are displayed alongside Japanese Arita ware from the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation and important examples of contemporary blue and white ceramics.


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