The Walters Art Museum
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410-547-9000, ext. 277

Realistic Perfection: The Making of Oriental Ceramic Art

March 12–June 4, 2011

The Walters Art Museum
600 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

In 1889, William Walters commissioned Louis Prang & Co., the foremost practitioners of the art of chromolithography, to reproduce choice examples of Chinese porcelain from his extensive collection. Chromolithography, now called color lithography, is a printmaking technique that uses a separate stone for each layer of color needed to produce the finished print. Prang’s artisans engaged in the painstaking work of recording every detail of Walters’ vases to produce richly colored lithographs that faithfully captured the surface and color of each ceramic piece. The production of the book took nearly sixteen years and brought together some of the nation’s finest artists and craftspeople.

The resulting publication, Oriental Ceramic Art by Dr. Stephen W. Bushell, was both a catalog of the collection and a work of art unto itself. When the book was released it immediately set a new standard for both the understanding of East Asian ceramics and for the art collection catalogue. To this day it remains a monument of great importance in the history of chromolithography and documents the foundation of one of America’s greatest collections of Asian porcelain. This focus show takes the visitor through the production of Oriental Ceramic Art beginning with Chinese porcelain from the Walters collection and its watercolor portrait. It showcases a series of progressive proofs illustrating the exacting technique used to create the luxurious prints bound into this important early catalog.

Hours are Wednesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.


China, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period (1736-1795), Iridescent Iron-Rust Vase, porcelain with iron-rust glaze on a carved wooden stand, purchased by William T. Walters before 1889, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (49.2063)

James Callowhill (1838-1917), 1889-1896, Iridescent Iron-Rust Vase, watercolor on paper, commissioned by William T. Walters, 1889, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (37.2828)

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