Chinese export is the style which occurred as a result of the Chinese trade with the west. First established between China and Portugal, the first porcelain export being known as Kraak porcelain. By the 18th Century, western artists started to make decorative items in a mock Chinese and Japanese style and this type of art had been dubbed ‘Chinoiserie’, which became a large element of the arts. Chinese export porcelain followed the general trends in western interior decoration fashion. This porcelain was created with the same technical skill as that made in China, whilst being designed to the western taste and matching the fashions.
The Chinese export porcelain became increasingly fashionable, those specifically commissioned by the Dutch and English East India Company directors, European royals or Yankee merchants. These were part of the so-called private trade and at the top of this was armorial porcelain; dinner services and decoration made-to-order with European coats-of-arms. These evolved as the trends did and as cuisine developed.
Donned with colour, the export style was different than the typical blue and white Chinese classical porcelain. The west wanted colour, while coloured original Chinese pieces were uncommon and rarely made. Decoration styles developed into categories or ‘families’ some of which include; Famille Verte, Famille Noire, Famille Jaune and Famille Rose. Families noire, verte and jaune (black, green and yellow) were all named as such due to the use of the colours as the base or background to the pattern. The Famille rose was named so due to the emphasis on flowers, the presence of the rose enamel based on gold and the softer impression from enamels mixed with white.
Europeans in the 18th Century soon desired the exotic birds, court figures, pugs (the dog) all in porcelain, smaller figures soon being made and placed on dinner tables while the larger Chinese animal-forms were used in the dining room.