Description & Technical information

The heavy vessel is supported on four cloud-shaped feet and is enamelled in the famille rose palette. The well is painted with four European gentlemen, their two European attendants and a winged naked young child (putto), all in a pastoral landscape beside a lake. The four gentlemen, each typically dressed in a full-skirted knee-length coat, knee breeches, stockings and stack-heeled shoes, rest beneath tall trees, one reclines on a rug, one has a walking stick and one wears a cloak and a tricorn hat; the two less elaborately dressed attendants bring refreshments. The interior sides are painted with cartouches of flowers against yellow and green diaper grounds with trefoils to the corners. The base is enamelled with two scaly four-clawed dragons, one yellow and one blue, amid crested waves and clouds in shades of grey, and the exterior sides with simple red blossoms on green cracked ice. Note a detail from the scroll, Huangqing Zhigongtu (Illustrated Tributaries of the Qing Empire), by Ding Guanpeng and others, dated 1751–75, in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Jackson and Jaffer, Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe 1500–1800, pl 16.9, p211, showing Europeans in a very similar style of dress. For a quatrefoil tray with similar figural decoration, see Lloyd Hyde, Chinese Painted Enamels from Private and Museum Collections, no. 52, p. 38. See also a saucer in the collection of the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, showing European figures in similar dress in Arapova, Chinese Painted Enamels, pl. 71, no. 125; and note also pl. 105, no. 147, for a dish painted with a dragon amid clouds similar to those on the base of this tray.

Date:  18th century
Period:  1600-1750, 1750-1850, 18th century
Origin:  China
Medium: Painted enamel on copper
Dimensions: 30.4 cm (12 inches)
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Sir Harry Garner and sold by Messrs Bluett, London.

Categories: Oriental and Asian Art