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Porcelain soup plate made for Lord Anson

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Diameter: 23.000 cm

Gift of the Earl of Lichfield (1892)

Asia OA 1892,6-16.1 (Franks 831+)

Enlightenment: Trade-Discovery

    Porcelain soup plate made for Lord Anson

    Jingdezhen, Jianxi province, China, AD 1743-47

    Highly prized for its translucency and durability, Chinese porcelain has been collected by Europeans since the fourteenth century, though ownership was originally limited to royal treasuries and churches. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the porcelain trade with China expanded significantly. Europeans set up offices in China and began to trade directly in Canton (Guangzhou). The British were at the forefront of these commercial dealings, having surpassed the Dutch by this time. Customers in England could submit designs for shapes and painting on porcelain and Chinese merchants would interpret their desires to the manufacturers and decorators.

    This plate, made of enamelled famille rose and gilded porcelain, is decorated with the coat of arms of Commodore, later Admiral, Lord Anson (1697–1762), famous for his circumnavigation of the globe. In the rim at the top is Anson's crest and two panels containing a view of the Pearl River (right) and Plymouth Sound in Devon (left). George Anson was in Canton (Guangzhou) in 1743. The breadfruit tree and palm in the centre are based on a drawing, The Watering Place at Tenian, where Anson landed in 1742 and which was later published in a copperplate engraving in his book Voyage Around the World (1748).

    R. Krahl and J. Harrison-Hall, Ancient Chinese trade ceramics (National Museum of History, ROC, 1994)

    J. Rawson (ed.), The British Museum book of Chi (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

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