A Chinese octagonal Plate, Qianlong, circa 1765-68

This Chinese octagonal plate with indented rim is finely decorated in the Mandarin style. The centre is painted in rich enamels with a hunting party, including a gentleman holding a falcon, surrounded by attendants. Dogs chase geese, and children watch excitedly from a pavilion. A harbour with mountains beyond forms the background. The rim is painted with four sepia monochrome panels in gilt-scrolled cartouches, depicting various vignettes. These appear to be based on earlier Meissen Kauffahrtei scenes of merchants and their wares by a quayside. Four alternating panels are decorated with polychrome flowers surrounding a further inset cartouche containing blossoming trees in puce camaïeu. Gilt-lined rim.

Signed Syson on the reverse.

Peter Syson is recorded in 1764 as a Chinaman living within the parish of St George, Hanover Square, London. The term Chinaman in the 18th century could be used to refer to those engaged in the business of dealing in, decorating and repairing ceramics, ‘and some of them carry on a very considerable trade, joining white flint glass, fine earthenware and stoneware, as well as teas, with their china ware.’ (A General Description of all Trades digested in alphabetical order. Printed by T. Walker at the Crown & Mitre, opposite Fetter Lane, Fleet Street, 1747).

It is not unusual for a China Burner and Mender to sign his work – the V&A Museum has a Chinese porcelain tea bowl (C.14-2008) with a ‘glass bonded’ repair, signed ‘Coombes Queen Street Bristol‘ in a very similar manner – and as such, it is likely that Syson repaired the plate.

Records give Syson’s address as Mount Street, London, and that he owed money to Thomas Wedgwood IV of Overhouse 1764-69, from whom he purchased stoneware (Edwards & Hampson, 2005).

Condition: An original firing flaw to the rim led to the break and subsequent stapled repair. There are tiny chips to the underside. No other damage.

Dimensions: Diameter 22.3 cm

The Northern Ceramic Society has a list of 18th-century dealers compiled by Robin Hildyard FSA https://www.northernceramicsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/DEALERS-LIST-updated-Nov.-2021.pdf

The Records of London’s Livery Companies Online has a listing for Peter Syson https://www.londonroll.org/event/?company=drp&event_id=DRLL1655

White Salt-glazed Stoneware of the British Isles, Diana Edwards & Rodney Hampson (Antique Collectors’ Club, 2005).

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