Description & Technical information

A porcelain food tray for sweetmeats, consisting of a central star-shaped dish surrounded by eight lappet-shaped dishes. The dishes have a double raised edge, in a brown colour, which may have been gilded. Each dish is painted with ladies involved in various domestic activities. The scenes are set in the garden as well as indoors, some also include playing children. Each scene is different - the central dish portrays two ladies playing weiqi and one of the side dishes portrays a lady playing the Qin.

The decoration of elongated slender ladies on porcelain was a particularly popular motif during the Kangxi period. They were known as mei ren (beautiful women) in Chinese and became known as lange lijzen ('long elizas') in Dutch. This term, which was coined in The Netherlands, is now a generic term used to describe a décor of domestic scenes with elegant Chinese ladies.

Sweetmeat sets were also produced in other glazes, decoration and shapes, for the domestic market as well as for export. Even though individual dishes are quite often found in the market, complete sets are now rare. The Topkapi Museum (Istanbul) has various incomplete sets with a similar décor. Complete sets, but in famille verte enamels, are in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and The Peabody Essex Museum (Salem).

Date:  1700
Period:  1600-1750, 17th century
Origin:  China
Medium: porcelain
Dimensions: 36.5 cm (14³/₈ inches)
Provenance: Private collection, The Netherlands

Categories: Oriental and Asian Art