Chinese export Plate, early Qianlong, hard paste porcelain, c.1738


This Chinese export octagonal plate is finely painted with the arms of the Dukes of Hamilton, the rim with three pencilled and gilt floral sprays.

Arms: Quarterly: 1st and 4th, Gules three Cinquefoils Ermine (for Hamilton); 2nd and 3rd, Argent a Lymphad with the sails furled proper flagged Gules (for Arran); 2nd and 3rd grand quarters: Argent a Heart Gules imperially crowned Or on a Chief Azure three Mullets of the first (for Douglas).

Crest: on a Ducal Coronet an Oak Tree rutted and penetrated transversely in the main stem by a Frame Saw proper the frame Or.

Supporters: on either side an Antelope Argent armed unguled ducally gorged and chained Or.

Motto: 'Through'.

The armorial service was commissioned by James, 5th Duke of Hamilton and 2nd Duke of Brandon KT FRS (1703-43), probably around the time of his marriage to his third wife, Anne Spencer, in 1737. He was made a Knight of the Order of the Thistle that same year.

James was the son of Lieutenant-General James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton, and Elizabeth Gerard. Educated at Winchester College and Christ Church, Oxford, he married first in 1723, Lady Anne Cochrane, daughter of the 4th Earl of Dundonald. Anne died after giving birth. He then married Elizabeth Strangways, an aunt of the future Countess of Ilchester, in 1727. Elizabeth died childless in 1729.

In 1724, Hamilton gained the rank of Captain General in the service of the Royal Company of Archers. He held the office of Lord of the Bedchamber between June 1727 and 1733. In 1736, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was also one of the first governors of the Foundling Hospital in London, Hamilton's name being listed on the organisation's royal charter, granted in 1739.

Hamilton died of palsy and jaundice, in Bath, in 1743.

Provenance: The Dr Robert Doyle Collection, sold at Christie’s, New York, 23 January 2001, lot 290; an English Private Collection.

Condition: There is a Y-shaped crack to the centre of the plate, although this is generally hidden by the decoration. It is mainly noticeable on the reverse, and confined within the footrim. There are a few frits and tiny chips to the rim, some of which may have been filled. No other damage and no restoration. There is some wear to the gilt and enamel decoration in places, and a few pinholes to the paste from manufacture.

Dimensions: Diameter 23 cm

Chinese Armorial Porcelain, Vol. 2, David Sanctuary Howard (Heirloom & Howard Limited, 2003).

Masterpieces of Chinese Export Porcelain from the Mottahedeh Collection in the Virginia Museum, David Sanctuary Howard and John Ayers (Sotheby Parke Bernet Publications, 1980).


Click on thumbnail above to see larger image
His Grace the Duke of Hamilton by the artist William Hoare (1707-92), in which he is depicted wearing the ribbon and star of the Order of the Thistle