Pater Gratia Oriental Art

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Sold Blue and White wares since 1722


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Sold Ceramics - Sold Blue and White wares since 1722 - Western Shapes - Page 1


Object 2011973


Coffee pot






Height with cover 160 mm (9.05 inch), height without cover 134 mm (6.70 inch) diameter of mouthrim 49 mm (2.76 inch), diameter of footring 50 mm (5.91 inch), weight with cover 406 grams (14.32 ounce (oz.)), weight cover 49 grams (1.73 ounce (oz.))


Pear-shaped coffee pot on footring, body with handle and thumb rest and a wide neck with a short spout on the rim. A flattened pierced domed cover with fruit-shaped finial. The cover is connected to the coffee pot by a silver chain attached to a Dutch silver mount (engraved) on the rim. Decorated in underglaze blue with a large rooster on rockwork flanked by flowering plants. Round the rim of the coffee pot and the rim of the cover flower pattern borders.


This coffee pot is a close copy of a German porcelain original popular at that time (1740-60). Its shape, spout, handle and flower decoration were closely copied. The Chinese porcelain decorator painted the rooster somewhat clumsy on a pile of rocks (like a Kangxi pheasant). This coffee pot is in fact a Chine de commande object in shape and decoration in a time were underglaze blue commande was rare. The whole production had to be done in Jingdezhen because Canton could not fire underglaze blue objects. The later fitted, 19th century, Dutch silver mount only ads more to the charm of this object.     


The term Chine de commande is used for Chinese porcelain objects decorated with Western designs or objects that were made after Western models. This coffee pot is a fine example of the latter. At the end of the 17th century drinking coffee was a rage throughout Europe and the demand for porcelain coffee wares was booming. The first porcelain coffee pots that arrived in the West were Japanese they were tapering shaped and made after a European metal model. Soon the Chinese began to imitate this European model. (Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.275)


Condition: A hairline to the rim and a professionally restored (re-stuck) handle.



Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.275


Price: Sold.


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Object 2011301


Shaving bowl






Height 74 mm (2.91 inch), dimensions rim 309 mm (12.16 inch) x 230 mm (9.06 inch) centre saved semicircular section, dimensions footring 125 mm (4.92 inch) x 75 mm (2.95 inch), weight 1.024 grams (36.12 ounce (oz.))


Exhibited: The World at Home: Asian porcelain and Delft pottery held from 17 June 2017 to 24 March 2019 at the Groninger Museum, The Netherlands.


Oval shaving bowl or barber's bowl on footring of the same shape. Spreading flat, underglaze brown-edged rim (jia mangkou) with a semicircular section saved in the lower part, two pierced holes in the footring. Decorated in underglaze blue with flowering peony and plum with a flying butterfly and insect. On the flat rim prunus and plum sprays. The reverse is undecorated.


Shaving bowls were used by barbers and were indispensable in the Dutch household too. They were made of earthenware, pewter, copper and even silver. They had an alternative use, namely to let blood from a vein in the arm during blood-letting, a medical procedure thought to drain bad blood from the system also performed by the barber/surgeon. In the seventeenth century, regulations were put in place in England to govern what barbers were permitted to do. Thus they became confined to bloodletting and treating external diseases. In Prussia the barbers' and the surgeons' guild joined in 1779, and it was said of great Prussian surgeons that they had risen "up from the barber's bowl". Both purposes explain the semicircular saving. The two holes are for a cord used to suspend it from the client's neck to catch lather and water during shaving, or to hang the bowl on the wall thus implying that owners also appreciated the bowl for its decorative value as well as its function. Chinese shaving bowls usually have the holes in the footring while Japanese examples have them in the rim. (Jörg 2003/1, p.184), (Sargent 2012, p.189)


Shaving bowls or barber's bowls are not very common in Chinese export porcelain, and oval bowls are rarer than round ones. The Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC), for instance, shipped 6,438 round bowls to Holland against 3,272 oval bowls in the period 1730-1790 (Jörg 1982/1, p.284). (Jörg 1989/2, p.76)


These forms have also been called shaving basins as well as Mambrino's helmets, a name that comes from Cervante's novel The Life and Achievements of Don Quixote de la Mancha, in which the title character uses the bowl of the barber Mambrino as a helmet. (Sargent 2012, p.189)


For similarly shaped shaving bowls or barber's bowls, please see:

Condition: A hairline to the base.



Gordon 1977. p.14

Jörg 1982/1, p.284

Jörg 1989/2, cat.15

Howard 1994, cat. 268

Jörg 2003/1, p.184

Sargent 2012, p.183


Price: Sold.


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Object 2012018


Milk bowl






Height 61 mm (2.40 inch), diameter of rim 112 mm (4.41 inch), diameter of footring 58 mm (2.28 inch)

weight 235 grams (8.29 ounce (oz.))


Small milk bowl on splayed foot with a wide footring, steep sides and an everted rim. The rim with a short pinched spout and a small ribbed side handle with thumb rest. Decorated in underglaze blue with a pine tree, flowering peony and other plants growing from rockwork. On the bottom a single flowering peony spray. Round the inner rim a small band with diaper patterns alternating with flower heads. 


In 1745 the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) ships take along milk bowls to the Netherlands for the first time, in rather small quantities. This stops after 1752, but in the sixties the occasionally reappear. Shipping invoices and reports do not describe them, but only refer to drawings or samples. We read, however, that a milk bowl should have a handle, while the order for 1750 mentions two sizes: one for half a pint and one with the contents of a mingele (2 pints or 1.2 litres).

In the wreck of the VOC ship Geldermalsen (1752) Captain Michael Hatcher found 479 of the 548 such milk bowls on the shipping invoice - exclusively in underglaze blue - with a handle and short spout in two different sizes, finally making clear what a milk bowl looks like.

Little is known about the use of these milk bowls. Presumably children and old people slop their bread in them and then pour out the remaining milk. They could also be used to skim the cream off the milk. The rare milk bowls in existing collections can now be recognized as to type and dated more accurately. (Jörg 1986/1, pp.72-73, fig. 59)


Howard states that these milk (dairy) bowls were imported into Holland in any quantity only for eight years (1745-1752), and probably there was no private trade in this form. (Howard 1994, p.225)


For similarly shaped milk bowls, please see:

Condition: Firing flaws to the spout and handle, a glaze frit, four shallow glaze chips and a popped bublle of glaze, caused during the firing process, all to the rim.



Howard 1974, p.772

Amsterdam 1986, lot 4001-4130

Jörg 1986/1, fig.59

Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, Pl. 183

Howard 1994, cat. 264


Price: Sold.


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Object 2011731


Handle for cane or walking-stick






Height 77 mm (3.03 inch), diameter of top 40 mm (1.57 inch), diameter of base 19 mm (0.74 inch), weight 121 grams (4.27 ounce (oz.))


Cylindrical handle for cane or walking-stick, tapering towards a flat knob. The cane opening is unglazed. Decorated in underglaze blue with a central lotus flower head encircled by leaves. The sides with peony flower heads surrounded by leafy scrolls. Below the flat knob a decorative scroll border.


In 18th century Europe men started carrying canes, not necessarily for support, but as an accessory to their wardrobes. The fancier and more resplendent the cane, the more the gentleman was admired by one and all .... the ladies followed suit. It was the jewelry of the day. It proclaimed your wealth for all to see. It was a mark of your place in society.


By the eigtheenth century, Chinese potters were particularly adept at producing special wares for their foreign customers. Some of these were not at all unusual for their time, but now strike us as being, if not singular, then at least novel. Many of these objects must have ben produced as special orders. Almost all are based on European forms and probably were adepted from porcelain, pewter or silver models brought by traders as early as the seventeenth century. This interchange of techniques and forms quickend in pace as the world trade in porcelain continued to grow between East and West. Hundreds of models could be named to illustrate the complex nature of trade between East and West in the 1700s. Porcelain plaques, chandeliers, torchères, stem cups based on Dutch and English drinking glasses, spittoons, butter dishes, wine cups, ewers, casters, ink pots, handles for canes or walking-sticks, barber's basins-all these and many more were produced at Ching-tê Chên, decorated there or in Canton an shipped to Europe and North America. (Gordon 1977, pp.102-103)


Lunsingh Scheurleer mentions that for all kinds of handles for walking canes models from European porcelain factories such as Meissen and Chantilly were used by the Chinese. According to him most of these handles can be dated 1750-1800 and the majority of them have a famille rose decoration. This handle with an underglaze blue decoration can therefore be considered unusual. (Lunsingh Scheurleer 1989, pp.152-153)


The porcelain handles for cane walking-sticks must be distinguished from those for walking-sticks of other materials, which were also made in Chinese porcelain, but were larger and more elegant. The latter were never handled by the Dutch East India Company. Handles for cane walking-sticks were bought in only in 1737 (5,043 blue and white and 5,000 with enamels colours decorated) and 1743 (2,760 blue and white, 4,070 Chinese Imari and 4,100 with enamels colours decorated) at less than 10 cents apiece. In view of the large quantities, these might have been special orders for re-export, since there was evidently no demand in the Netherlands for these objects in other years. (Jörg 1982, p.192 & p.306)


Large walking-stick handles are rare and must have been used for walking-sticks of ebony or another expensive tropical wood. More common are the small knobs for the ordinary cane walking-sticks, such as bought by the Dutch East India Company in 1737 and 1743. (Jörg 1989/2, p.81, cat. 18)


For a Chinese Imari decorated saucer with a decoration of an 18th century European dressed figure, holding a cane or walking-stick, please see:

Condition: A firing flaw to the cane opening and two tiny frits to the flat knob.



Gordon 1977, pp.102-103

Jörg 1982, p.192 & p.306

Jörg 1989/2, p.81, cat. 18

Lunsingh Scheurleer 1989, pp.152-153


Price: Sold.


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