Adorning the Inner Court: Jun Ware for the Chinese Palace

, University Teaching Gallery, Harvard Art Museums
  • Flower Vase in the Form of an Archaic Bronze 'Zun' Wine Beaker with Dragon-and-Wave Decor
  • Cylindrical Censer with Three Small Cabriole Legs
  • Zhadou-Shaped Flowerpot with Globular Body and Flaring Mouth
  • Flower Vase in the Form of an Archaic Bronze 'Zun' Vessel with Flanges
  • Lobed Flowerpot with Bracketed Foliate Rim
  • Lobed Flowerpot with Bracketed Foliate Rim
  • Rectangular Flowerpot with Four Small Feet
  • Circular Basin with Drum-Nail Decor and Three Cloud Scroll Feet
  • Rectangular Basin with Notched Corners and Four Cloud Scroll Feet
  • Small Censer in the Form of an Archaic Bronze 'Ding' Tripod Vessel
  • Lobed Flowerpot with Foliate Rim
  • Elongated Hexagonal Flowerpot with Six Small Feet
  • Lobed Flowerpot with Foliate Rim
  • Lobed Flowerpot with Bracketed Foliate Rim
  • Rectangular Flowerpot with Four Small Feet
  • Lobed Quatrefoil Basin with Four Cloud Scroll Feet
  • Lobed Quatrefoil Flowerpot with Four Cloud Scroll Feet
  • Openwork Cover with Chrysanthemum Design for Compressed Globular Perfumer (1942.185.60.A)
  • Small Circular Wine Bowl with Purple Splashes
  • Lobed Flowerpot with Bracketed Foliate Rim
  • Lobed Basin with Bracketed Foliate Rim and Three Cloud Scroll Feet
  • Lobed Quatrefoil Basin with Four Cloud Scroll Feet
  • Inverted Bell-Shaped Flowerpot with Flaring Lip
  • Circular Basin with Drum-Nail Decor and Three Cloud Scroll Feet
  • Perfumer or Incense Burner Cut Down from a Zhadou-Shaped Flowerpot
  • Small Circular Wine Bowl with Purple Splashes
  • Circular Flat Dish with Everted Lip and Purple Splashes
  • Circular Flat Dish with Everted Lip and Purple Rim
  • Lobed Flowerpot with Foliate Rim
  • Lobed Flowerpot with Foliate Rim
  • Rectangular Flowerpot with Four Small Feet
  • Rectangular Flowerpot with Four Small Feet
  • Zhadou-Shaped Flowerpot with Globular Body and Flaring Mouth
  • Elongated Hexagonal Basin with Six Small Feet
  • Zhadou-Shaped Flowerpot with Globular Body and Flaring Mouth
  • Penjing with Rock and Acorus Grass in a Ceramic Basin
  • Lobed Flowerpot with Foliate Rim
  • Rectangular Flowerpot with Four Small Feet
  • Lobed Flowerpot with Foliate Rim
  • Small Circular Wine Bowl with Purple Splashes
  • Zhadou-Shaped Vase with Dragons and Scrolling Flower Decor
On View Locate on Floor Plan University Teaching Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

The Harvard Art Museums hold the largest and finest collection in the West of a rare and strikingly beautiful type of ceramic ware used in the private quarters of the Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace in Beijing. These numbered Jun wares—so named because each is marked on its base with a single Chinese numeral—have long been admired for their fine potting, distinctive shapes, and radiant purple and blue glazes. Opinions on these vessels’ dates of origin vary widely, and given the scarcity of numbered Jun in most museum collections, a comprehensive study of this unusual ware has never been undertaken outside the imperial collections in China and Taiwan.

Drawn entirely from the museums’ permanent collections, this exhibition introduces the typology, technical characteristics, collecting history, and controversies surrounding numbered Jun ware. It features approximately half of the museums’ 60 numbered Jun, all of which were given to Harvard in 1942 by Boston-area collectors Ernest B. Dane (Harvard College Class of 1892) and his wife Helen Pratt Dane. This exhibition marks the 75th anniversary of the Danes’ extraordinary gift of nearly 300 Chinese ceramics and later jades. It is also the first focused exhibition of their unique collection of palace Jun ware since it came to Harvard.

The exhibition is complemented by an online resource that provides further contextualization of Harvard’s entire numbered Jun collection. The Numbered Jun Ware Special Collection introduces this remarkable ceramic ware and explores its many complexities through descriptive summaries of its typology, technical characteristics, controversies, and collecting history, accompanied by a selection of representative images.

Curated by Melissa A. Moy, the Alan J. Dworsky Associate Curator of Chinese Art at the Harvard Art Museums.

The exhibition and online special collections feature are funded in part by the Gregory and Maria Henderson Fund and by generous support from Terry and William Carey.

Related Programming
Information about related events, including gallery talks in English and in Mandarin Chinese, can be found on our calendar.