Jeanne Preus Rost (LC 1941) purchased the 53 pieces of Chinese cloisonné in this collection starting from 1950 until her death August 4, 1984. Her sister, Linka Preus Johnson received the collection and then donated the cloissoné to Luther College a year later. The Chinese cloissoné in this collection consists mostly of small utilitarian containers such as vases, bowls, boxes, plates, cups and ash trays.
Rost focused her collecting on Chinese cloisonn®¶. Her interest in Lutheran
missions in China and in her brother Rolf Brand Preus’ World War II flying
experiences in the area influenced her choice. Rost collected the cloisonn®¶ in the
United States, working exclusively with antique dealers and antiquities merchants.
Cloisonné is defined succinctly in the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (second ed.)
published on behalf of the Getty Art History Information Program by Oxford
University Press in 1994.
Cloisonné is “a technique of enameling in which the design is laid down in
thin metal strips on a metal or porcelain ground, forming chambers
(cloisons) to receive the vitreous enamel pastes.”
The piece is fired after it receives the pastes. The rough, uneven surface is then
ground smooth and polished off flush with the wires. The resulting surface is even
and smooth, typically with a dull or matte finish. Chinese cloisonné objects are often
decorated in intricate designs with pictorial scenes, stylized floral patterns and
spiral and scroll figures predominating. The designs are typically painted in a
variety of clear, bright colors. Since enamel is a form of glass, cloisonné objects can
be easily cleaned. Other less well‐known types of enamel work that are similar to
cloisonné are champlevé and repoussé.
The origin of cloisonné is estimated to be early, perhaps around the 13th century
BCE in Mycenaean Greece. Records indicate that Chinese cloisonné began to be
created in the 14th century. The technique was brought to China by traders from the
west. After the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, when European armies fought in China,
cloisonné became better known in Europe and America.