Treasures of Chinese Porcelain
First broadcast: BBC Four 11 October 2011
Why are Chinese vases so famous and so expensive? The answer lies in the European obsession with Chinese porcelain, which began in the 16th century and by the 18th century became a full-blown craze that swept up kings, princes and the emerging middle classes.
Lars Tharp, expert on Antiques Roadshow and Chinese ceramics specialist, sets out to explore why Chinese porcelain was so valuable then and why it still is today. He’ll go on a journey to parts of China closed to Western eyes until relatively recently. Lars will travel to the mountainside from which virtually every single Chinese export vase, plate and cup began life in the eighteenth-century. He will uncover the secrets of China’s porcelain capital, Jingdezhen, before embarking on the arduous 400-mile journey to the coast that every piece of export porcelain would once have travelled.
Lars discovers how the trade between China and Europe not only changed our idea of what was beautiful, but helped to create the trade between East and West.
Click on a selection of objects featured in the programme to view more details