The fourth son of Kangxi, Yongzheng was 44 when he succeeded his father. For the whole of his short reign he had to contend with the intrigues of his brothers, some of whom had been converted to Christianity. The direct result of which, was that he tried to avenge himself on the missionaries by relentlessly oppressing the Christians established in China. Only the Jesuits admitted to court were spared. In the reign of Yongzheng, Giuseppe Castiglione, a pupil of Andrea Pozzo, helped Nian Siyao with adapting the treatise Perspective pictorum et architectorum (1729) into Chinese. Nian Siyao was the Superintendent of Customs, and also, from 1726 to 1736, director of the Jingdezhen porcelain factory. He himself supervised the pieces made for the court at Peking.
Blue and White Porcelain
The chief characteristic of blue-and-white in the reign of Yongzheng is the archaic taste both in form and in decoration. However, the copy is rarely faithful; the influence of the 18th century is apparent even in the transposition of the past.
The blue is darker and flecked with black in imitation of Xuande pieces, but is artificially contrived and feels mechanical, so that is never manages to capture the effect of the original. The silvery blue of Chenghua, the violet sheen of Jiajing are also reproduced, again with a varying degree of success. Decoration repeats Ming themes: lotus scrolls, peonies, tight arabesques of leaves and clouds. There are also copies of large dishes, called “Constantinople dishes”, and some pieces on a yellow ground described by Tang Ying in his list as copies of Xuande models.