Chinese Plate, hard paste porcelain, late Kangxi, decorated in Holland, c.1710-30


This late Kangxi plate is painted in enamels and gilt with two brown quails pecking millet seeds which have fallen from an overhanging millet plant, on top of which sits a grasshopper. The plant is surrounded by flowers. The cavetto is decorated with half-florets, and the outer edge is painted with a 'cracked-ice' and scattered prunus blossom border. Four cartouches are arranged around the border, each alternating with pairs of quails and cocks.

Although the asymmetry, colouring and white space of the central design are typical of Japanese Kakiemon, the grasshopper tends to be a favourite motif with painters of both Dutch decorated Chinese porcelain and Delft versions of this pattern.

The famille verte 'cracked-ice' border also occurs in conjunction with this pattern on Chantilly porcelain of the period 1735-45. Many Dutch workshops began to close down in the 1720s, and it is likely that artists migrated to France, where they continued to paint familiar patterns on porcelain.

The base is painted in underglaze blue with a double circle surrounding a Kangxi period workshop seal mark.

Provenance: Jill McNeile.

Condition: Three small sections have been broken from the rim and re-stuck. The affected area includes the 'cracked-ice' border and the cartouche containing the feeding quails (from 8 o'clock to 10 o'clock). Three very small chips to the rim have been restored, one of which is only visible on the underside. The enamel and gilt decoration is in good order, with light wear in places.

Dimensions: Diameter 21.9 cm

The Two Quail Pattern: 300 Years of Design on Porcelain, Dr Chris Girton (Louvic Publications, 2004).

Japanese Export Poreclain: Catalogue of the Collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Oliver Impey (Hotei Publishing, 2002).


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