About Canton Enamel
Canton enamel was a new technique whereby enamels were painted onto the whole surface of copper, ceramics, and other earthenware pieces. Nonetheless, metal pieces have become the most synonymous with the words “Canton enamel.” The technique was developed in Limoges, France in the seventeenth century and brought to China in the eighteenth century by French missionaries.
HOW: A metal object, usually copper but sometimes silver or gold, is covered with a background layer of enamel (often white), is fired, and then is painted with colored enamels much as are porcelains. The finished piece is then fired again.
WHEN: The earliest examples of Canton enamel date as far back as 1740.
WHERE: The technique was developed in Limoges, France in the seventeenth century and brought to China in the eighteenth century by French missionaries. Chinese painted enamel named after its place of manufacture which is the southern city of Canton in the Guangdong province.
French missionaries brought the technique to China. Chinese were revered for their porcelain and glazing techniques. The Chinese quickly grasped the Canton enamel technique because they were already well-versed with ceramics overglaze and cloisonné.
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