Ox's head tureen with cover and stand Qing Dynasty, Quianlong Period (1736-1795), 1760-1770, China porcelain decorated in overglaze polychrome enamells, Tureen 38 x 37 x 25.5 cm, Stand 50 x 43.5 cm, RA Collection | Photo: Richard Valencia<br />
What happens when the Europe of the 1500s meets Chinese porcelain? Table services, vases and furnishings made in the Orient become a must for any respectable European court and the artisans of China do their best to meet the demand for this new luxury item. Forms and decorations desired by the West creates a new trend with porcelain becoming the first product to be sold on a global level. The history of all this returns to the Fondazione Prada, where 1700 original pieces invade the spaces of the Tower and enter into dialogue with the contemporary works of the collection. There are 45 “first orders”, the very first pieces commissioned by the Portoghese to the Chinese (only 150 of these exist in the entire world), a vast selection of porcelain pieces from the Ming Dynasty, as well as rarities produced for the Islamic market, all on loan from prestigious international collections. Then, there are the treasures of the “Porcelain Halls”, sumptuous fashion installations in the European palaces of the 1700s, comprised of Chinese porcelain, mirrors, enamel panels and gold inlay. But what really captures the eye is the encounter between two universes, little by little, taking shape in European furnishings and exotic forms inspired by nature whether it be animals, plants or fruit, but all from a far away land.