Sold Ceramics - Sold Chine de commande - Western Subjects 1680-1800 - Western Designers -
Teyler, Johannes (1648-c.1709)
Spoon or leak tray
Soft-paste or Steatitic Porcelain (pâte tendre)
Height 16 mm (0.63 inch), dimensions 125 mm (4.92 inch) x 80 mm (3.14 inch)
Spoon or leak tray with hexagonal sides and a partial glazed base. Decorated in underglaze blue. In the centre a group of people on a spit of land jutting into a lake or the sea. To the left on the shore two children with outstretched hands, at the far-left rocks with trees. The sides are decorated with a narrow band with honeycomb motifs.
A recent discovery shows that this composition is taken from a part of a colour print by Johannes Teyler (1648-c.1709) from his Opus Typochromaticum (1688-98), depicting The Fall of Phaëton. Two other prints from this Opus are known on Chinese export porcelain. (CohenandCohen.co.uk, REF No. 6375)
Phaëthon, the son of the Sun God Helios, had begged his father to prove his paternity to his friends, so Helios had sworn an oath on the River Styx to grant any wish that the youth wanted. Phaëthon chose to ride the famous sun chariot and despite his father’s warning that the steeds were too strong for him, the young man took the reins. His lack of control soon led to disasters when he flew too low and scorched the earth. (CohenandCohen.co.uk, REF No. 6375)
The part of the Teyler print here shows a group of River Gods in distress, who had petitioned Zeus to stop Pheëton’s uncontrolled Chariot ride because it had caused their rivers to dry up. When Zeus kills Phaëthon with a thunderbolt he falls into the River Eridanus where he is drowned. (CohenandCohen.co.uk, REF No. 6375)
Soft-paste porcelain, which is quite different from European soft-paste, originated about 1700 and became popular in the second quarter of the 18th century as part of the export assortment. Unlike ordinary porcelain, it is not translucent and often has a creamy-white appearance. The glaze is often finely crackled as the result of a difference in cooling between the glaze and the body. The latter is made of a white-firing clay, called "huashi" or "slippery stone", the use of which is documented in the reports of 1712 and 1722 by the Jesuit Père d'Entrecolles. As this clay was expensive, soft-paste pieces are usually small and thinly potted. They are also well-painted, as the body is particularly suitable for detailed drawing. Besides this "true" soft-paste, there are pieces with an ordinary porcelain body and a coating of "huashi" clay, which gives the same effect. Due to the porous nature of the fired "huashi" clay, soft paste objects are overall lighter than hard paste objects. The production for export flourished between 1725-1745 and came to a stand around 1750, twenty years later the production revived but the quality of the objects produced never reached the quality level of the previous production. Only a few Chine de commande objects are known to be made of soft paste porcelain, most famous being 'Neptune' and this mythological design formerly known as 'Castaways or slaves' or 'The wreck of the Grosvenor' design because it seemed to depict a famous incident when the Grosvenor, returning from India to London was lost off the coast of South Africa in 1782. Of the 123 survivors who were cast ashore only 18 made it to Cape town. (Oort & Kater 1982, p.155), (Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.117), (Sargent 2012, p.304), (CohenandCohen.co.uk, REF No. 6375)
Only a few Chine de commande objects are known to be made of soft paste porcelain, most famous being 'Neptune' and this what we now know as 'The Fall of Phaëton' design. (Sargent 2012, p.304)
For identically decorated dishes, please see:
- La porcelaine des Compagnies des Indes a décor Occidental, (F. & N. Hervouët & Y. Bruneau, Flammarion - Pere Castor, Paris 1986), p.206, cat. 9.42.
- Jan Menze van Diepen Stichting. Selectie uit de collectie Oosterse keramiek (Jan Menze van Diepen Foundation. A Selection from the Collection of Oriental Ceramics), (C.J.A. Jörg, Jan Menze van Diepen Stichting / Jan Menze van Diepen Foundation, Slochteren 2002, pp.146-147, cat. 100.
For a similarly decorated dish, please see:
- Prenten op Porselein, (C.J.A. Jörg in: Beelden in veelvoud. De vermenigvuldiging van het beeld in prentkunst en fotografie, ed. N. Bartelings e.a., Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 12, Leiden 2002), pp.167-176.