- Museum number
Polychrome painted soup plate with an English coat of arms. The soup plate is painted with a faint landscape scene 'en grisaille', with an armorial panel in the centre executed in iron-red, blue and turquoise enamels and gold. The cavetto shows pomegranate medallions on a ground of large and small florets, the rim shows four cartouches with landscape scenes, one incorporating a family crest, on a diaper ground. Service made for John Elwick of Mile End and Cornhill, a director of the East India Company from 1713 to 1720.
- Production date
Diameter: 22.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Harrison-Hall and Krahl 1994:
This soup plate is one of the earliest Chinese armorial pieces made for the English market and combines typical Chinese decoration with a European coat of arms. The arms have been identified as belonging to John Elwick of Mile End and Cornwall (Howard, 1974, p. 234), who was a director of the English East India Company from 1713 to 1720 and died in 1730. His son, another J. Elwick, was also involved in trade with China and in 1734 was supercargo on the ship Harrison bound for Canton. The decorative use of heraldry in England goes back to the thirteenth century when, for example, King Henry III of England ordered a silver platter engraved with the royal arms as a present for his wife. This practice soon spread amongst the nobility and great ecclesiastics, with coats of arms appearing as architectural details, painted on walls and window shutters, and woven into tapestries (Woodcock and Robinson, 1990, pp. 172-86). During the 18th and 19th centuries Chinese porcelain painters most commonly copied coats of arms from heraldic book-plates, sent out for this purpose by customers (see, for example, BM Franks 780+).
Other pieces from this service include another soup plate in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Le Corbeiller, 1974, no. 22); and a spoon tray in the Mottahedeh collection (Howard and Ayers, 1978, vol. II, no. 407).
- On display (G1/fc23)
- Exhibition history
1994, Taiwan, National Museum of History, Ancient Chinese Trade Ceramics
1995 27 Jan-26 Mar, London, BM, G91, East Meets West: Chinese Trade Ceramics in the British Museum
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- According to the SRC, the object was bequeathed, but according to the FIC, it was given.
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1911,0718.1