The Economist gives a little tutorial on Chinese Export Porcelain as background to the upcoming sale of Elinor Gordon’s collection at Sotheby’s. But the magazine’s description of the rise of a new merchant class aping the manners and possessions of the gentry echoes nothing more than the current rage for Contemporary art as rising fortunes in finance and emerging markets drive a new class of acquirers:
By the 18th century, British, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish and American trade with China was so well established that the new wealthy merchant class it created had taken to emulating the trappings of the landed gentry, designing coats of arms and commissioning entire porcelain services on which to flaunt them. No marriage or promotion was complete without a specially made plate to commemorate it. This upward social mobility gave rise to a new phenomenon, the manufacture of Chinese porcelain and paintings for the export market.
Eastern Eyes (Economist)