One of the curious facts about the type of Chinese procelain known in the west as famille rose is that the pink colour used in it didn’t originate in China.
The recipe for this substance, a preparation of colloidal gold and stannous hydroxide, was known as ‘purple of Cassius’, after the German physician Andreas Cassius the younger who published the recipe for it 1685 – although he wasn’t the first to describe it.
Jesuit missionaries subsequently took the formula to China, where it was introduced into the porcelain production process in about 1723.
Ironically, Europeans admired famille rose for its seemingly exotic colour scheme, as well as its technical finesse. However, not only did the pink colour originally come from Europe, the decoration of many famille rose pieces was also specifically designed for the European market.
Does that mean that we can never really appreciate something if it doesn’t have an element of familiarity?