Auspicious Animals

Auspicious Animals:
Chinese Export Porcelain Figures

This is a past exhibit and is no longer on display. For more offerings from the Museums, explore our Current Events and Exhibits.


On View: September 16 – December 4, 2021

Location: Watson Galleries
Photo (left): Deer 鹿 (lù)
Made in Jingdezhen, China 
Made of hard-paste porcelain 
On loan from Felicia Warburg Rogan

Gallery Talk

Watch the recording of Auspicious Animals: Chinese Export Porcelain Figures and their Meaning for an exploration of the aesthetic appeal and symbolic meanings behind Chinese export porcelain figures.

About the Exhibition

In the 1700s and 1800s, decorative figures of animals were some of the most elaborate, exclusive, and expensive pieces of porcelain exported from China to Europe.

But these figures are more than just pretty porcelain pets; they reflect Chinese traditions that see many animals as auspicious, meaning they symbolize good fortune. Chinese potters drew on these traditions when designing these figures, even though their symbolic significance was rarely understood by their original European owners.

These rare objects were prized decorations for grand European homes, and we can read them as documentation of the cultural and artistic interactions between China and Europe that were part of the China Trade.

In the News

This exhibit was curated by Amelia Lancaster, W&L Class of 2022, and Ron Fuchs II, Senior curator of ceramics.

This exhibit was made possible through the generosity of Felicia Warburg Rogan and Steve and Mary Lynn Marks

Our Mission

The Museums at W&L advance learning through direct engagement with the collections and facilitate an interdisciplinary appreciation of art, history, and culture.