Twenty examples of Chinese Lions/Foo Dogs on porcelain are shown below. They are all examples from the 19th century (since the Jiaqing) and the first half of the 20th century. This is a follow-on from a discussion on the Gotheborg forum but where I was unable to upload the images with my flukey internet service. The images are in no particular order.
So, we are concentrating on the Chinese Lions/Foo dogs themselves and how they may have changed throughout this 150 year period. As I began to focus on the individual lions for this exercise, I had the best time! Some of the lion’s faces are straight out of ‘The Simpsons’! So GR’s idea of them as cartoons is spot on. But this is truly how they are, and they are madder and crazier than dragons, I’ve decided. Take a look…. (excuse the quality of some of the images).
C19th wine cup
Tea Cup, 4 character stamped iron red Qianlong seal mark with a double border, late C19th/early C20th
Straight sided turquoise ground bowl, iron red Guangxu mark, probably of the period, but these are dogs, not lions???
Straight sided turquoise ground bowl, Jiaqing seal mark and ‘CHINA’ mark, either of period or Guangxu (can’t tell from pictures, but probably Guangxu)
Turquoise ground bowl
with Jiaqing seal mark, possibly of the period, again dogs, not lions?
Six-sided lidded jar, Jiaqing seal mark, possibly of the period or early C20th
Footed dish, handwritten Tongzhi seal mark, probably of the period – these guys are quite cartoon-like already
Small yellow ground teapot with multi-coloured keyfret , stamped Qianlong kaishu mark, red, Republic
Turquoise ground plate, Jiaqing seal mark but late C19th/earlyC20th, these are dogs again
Turquoise ground plate with multi-coloured key fret, stamped Qianlong kaishu mark, red, Republic
Small plate, handwritten Tongzhi seal mark, probably of the period. These guys are straight from‘The Simpsons’ with those noses!
Yellow ground tea bowl, stamped Guangxu kaishu mark, Republic
Bowl with handwritten Qianlong kaishu mark, Republic
Footed dish, handwritten Tongzhi seal mark and probably of the period.
Yellow ground bowl with everted rim, 4 character handwritten Jiajing seal mark, but earlyC20th
Yellow ground sauce dish with multi-coloured key fret, stamped Guangxu kaishu mark and ‘CHINA’, Republic
Plate with 4 character stamped iron red Qianlong seal mark with a double border, late C19th/early C20th
Bowl with multi-coloured key fret and a querkily handwritten Guangxu kaishu mark, probably Republic but could be of the period
Six sided footed dish with yellow ground, handwritten Tongzhi seal mark, probably of the period
Large lidded turquoise ground tureen, with stamped circle mark ‘Jiangxi Zhang Rong Ji Chu Pin’, late Republic
So, these animals appear on turquoise Jiaqing (and later, Guangxu, copies), on Tongzhi plates and footed dishes and on a range of utilitarian wares of variable quality from the Republic. Most of the Republic period examples have a multi-coloured key fret. The quality of painting is quite variable across the whole time period with cartoon-like renderings present in Jiaqing, Tongzhi, Guangxu marked pieces as well the Republic period pieces. The earlier lions seem to be rounder and more detailed but not universally. Some have flowing ‘manes’ and tails, others are very curly, not age related. All have ribboned flower balls, except the examples with actual dogs (which we should leave out in future IMO), and some lions have the flower balls in their mouths. In essence there is no real pattern through time, they are reasonably individualistic, and some are like cartoons. It is, however, reasonably easy to date them with a combination of shape, ground colour, marks and presence of multi-coloured key fret.
Best wishes, Michaela