Pater Gratia Oriental Art

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The Hatcher Junk c.1643-1646

 

Page 1

The Hatcher Junk

 

1643-1646

 

The Hatcher Cargo was recovered from the wreck of a Chinese junk in the South China seas port of Batavia (today Jakarta) by Captain Michael Hatcher in 1983, and was later sold in the Netherlands. They were a small part of what, at the time, was the largest cargo of Chinese porcelain ever recovered in good condition from the sea. Captain Michael Hatcher and his crew brought up about 25,000 pieces of unbroken porcelain from the Hatcher junk those sold through four sales at Christies Amsterdam. The very wide diversity and quality of many of the pieces created great interest, and the date was established by the existence in the find of two pieces with the Chinese cyclical date for 1643.

 

Captain Michael Hatcher and his crew brought up about 25,000 pieces of unbroken porcelain from the Hatcher junk. Those sold through four sales at Christies Amsterdam. Captain Hatcher returned to the site in 1985 and salvaged over 2,000 more pieces, most of which were sold through a London dealer, Heirloom and Howard. The great majority of the 25,000 pieces were Jingdezhen blue and white, but there were also interesting groups of celadon, blanc-de-Chine, coloured wares and provincial blue-and-white. (Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, pp.8-19)

 

The ship was almost certainly sailing from China to the Dutch base at Batavia from where cargoes were purchased and transhipped to Dutch East Indiamen for their journey to Europe.

 

The range of shapes of wares available in the Hatcher junk illustrates what a south Asian porcelain trading vessel of the mid-17th Century might be expected to contain. The cargo also includes objects which normally did not reach the West. This wreck should be seen in its historical context. There was a Dutch pewter jug found in the wreck, which certainly suggests a connection with the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC), headquarters at Batavia. The native Ming dynasty was overthrown in 1644 and the resulting civil war substantially upset Chinese trade with the VOC and other western powers. The rebellion interrupted Junk trade to the VOC headquarters at Formosa, the entrepot for ceramics bound ultimately for Batavia. The contents of this wreck suggest a considerable conservatism in the production of Chinese domestic blue-and-white for the first half of the 17th Century. Types of kraak porcelain which were discovered in the Witte Leeuw wreck (which sank in 1613) are closely mirrored in the porcelain of this ship, 30 to 40 years later, it is often said that the Dutch were very conservative in their porcelain taste during the first half the 17th century. It may well be that the VOC went on buying kraak type wares, and the reason why such large amounts of dishes, bowls and jars survived especially in the Netherlands, is that, in fact, there was no export porcelain alternative readily available which the VOC could buy in quantity from Chinese trading Junks. Many of the smaller pieces offered from this wreck bear earlier reign-marks, mostly of the late Ming Emperors none unfortunately of Tianqi or Chongzheng, but equally none with Kangxi marks or cyclical dates for the earliest years of the Manchu Qing dynasty. (Amsterdam 1985, pp.7-8)

2012117
2012117

Shipwreck Porcelains - The Hatcher Junk (1643-1646) - Page 1

 

Object 2012117

 

Dish

 

China

 

c.1643

  

Provenance: The Hatcher Collection, Christie’s Amsterdam, 14 March 1984.

 

Height 41 mm (1.61 inch), diameter of rim 203 mm (7.99 inch), diameter of footring 106 mm (4.17 inch), weight 313 grams (11.04 ounce (oz.))

 

Dish on footring, slightly scalloped flat rim. Decorated in a light shade of underglaze blue under a degraded glaze with flowering plants issuing from rockwork encircled by an eight-pointed scalloped medallion. The sides and rim with large panels filled with peach and auspicious symbols and narrow panels filled with a diaper or scale pattern and dots. On the reverse five large panels filled with dots within a larger circle alternate with narrow panels filled with stylised lingzhi. On the base a rectangular paper auction label that reads: The Hatcher Collection, Christie's Amsterdam, 14-03-1984.

 

According to Rinaldi dishes found in the Hatcher Cargo can be classified as Border VII.3 dishes. Borders in this group show a great variety in their decorative motifs. The most common bears the sunflower motif alternating with large and simply drawn symbols. Dishes with similar border were found among the shards from the São Gonçalo, a Portuguese ship that sank along the south-east coast of South Africa in 1630. (Rinaldi 1989, pp.106-108)

 

The Dutch habitually placed their orders for plates and dishes in terms of 'full, half, third, quarter and eight sizes' which must have represented dimensions understood by the Dutch, the Chinese traders with whom they dealt and the potters. Actual measurements are almost never stated in the VOC records, and it is likely that there was in fact no common standard of measurement understood by all parties. Another standardizing factor would have been the use of moulds. These dishes were thrown on a wheel and then pressed over a mould to produce the indented panels that are so characteristic of kraak wares. (Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, p.37)

 

2012117 9 label

 

In total 48 of these 200 mm (7.87 inch), dishes, decorated with a bird and flowering plants issuing from rockwork were sold by Christie's Amsterdam on March 14, 1984. (Amsterdam 1984/1, lot 138, 139, 338A

 

For similarly decorated dishes, please see:

Condition: Two fleabites and a frit to the rim.

 

References:

Amsterdam 1984/1, lot 138,139, 338A & 339

Amsterdam 1985, pp.7-8 

Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, pp.32-37, Pl.52

Rinaldi 1989, Pl. 97

Howard 1997, p.27

 

Price: Sold.

 

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2011152
2011152

Sold Ceramics - Sold Shipwreck Porcelains - The Hatcher Junk (1643-1646) - Page 1 

 

Object 2011152

 

Bottle

 

China

 

c.1643

 

Provenance: The Hatcher Collection, Christie’s Amsterdam, 12/13 June 1984 & 14 February 1985) / The Hatcher Collection, Christie's Amsterdam / Axel Vervoordt.

 

Height 272 mm (10.71 inch), diameter 141 mm (5.55 inch), diameter of mouthrim 38 mm (1.50 inch), diameter of footring 92 mm (3.62 inch)

 

Pear-shaped bottle on footring, some kiln sand. Decorated in underglaze blue. The straight, moulded segments painted with winged horses galloping above waves through cloud scrolls. Six large panels, filled with flower sprays, alternate with smaller panels showing straight lines and dots. The wide segments on the shoulder show a swastika / meander pattern and are bordered by a simple ring of ruyi heads. On the neck smaller narrow segments filled with beaded pendants, round the rim a ruyi motifs border.

 

This bottle can be classified as a closed Forms, pear-shaped bottle. The name defines the shape of these bottles: a rounded body low on the footring with a neck of varying length, often ending with a garlic-shaped protuberance. These bottles are often referred to as Persian flasks. Unlike Kraak bowls and dishes, footrims on bottles are thick, low almost rolled. Bases are glazed. The Hatcher cargo produced a large amount of full-size bottles, which are truly representative of the term "pear-shaped". In these late pieces the border on the shoulder is wide and may have a meander pattern or thick lines. A series of dots covers the rest of the neck. When it is present, the garlic shape at the end of the neck is decorated with triangular motifs connected by straight lines. The large panels sport the unusual decorations but the flying horse, painted vertically and head down, is a favourite motif. All these bottles are heavily potted. (Rinaldi 1989, pp.166-191)

 

Such pear-shaped bottles were common in the cargoes of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) ships returning to the Netherlands and frequently figure in the Company's records as pear-shaped bottles and "Persian" bottles are mentioned as separate items, but the difference between them is not yet clear. Several pieces of the same shape and with rather casual and simplified decoration were found in the Hatcher wreck, a Chinese Junk which sank c.1643. Thus this bottle is dated accordingly. Unlike dishes, saucers and bowls of Kraak porcelain, hollow forms such as bottles, ewers and jars do not have the characteristic thin body of Kraak porcelain and are more heavily potted. Nevertheless, all authors accept them as Kraak ware because of their decoration in - usually moulded - panels. (Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.66)

 

J. Howard Farrar states in, The Christian Science Monitor, "An antiques dealer's quest for "Harmony" that Axel Vervoordt of Antwerp, Belgium, is an antiques dealer and decorator, his stock trade is fine furniture, silver, porcelain and pictures. When in 1984 a cargo of Chinese porcelain was raised from the bottom of the South China Sea by Michael Hatcher, the market was not ready for the quantities of Ming porcelain which suddenly appeared. Nor was it ready for the special effect on the glaze which centuries under the seas had produced. Vervoordt was captivated by the romance of the cargo and bought almost the entire consignment at the first auction. Only then did dealers and collectors realize the importance of the cargo, and prices soon rocketed, turning Vervoordt's venture into what he described as the best deal he has ever made. (Howard Farrar 1987)

 

In total only five pear-shaped bottle-vases, decorated with flying horses above waves, were sold, four in 1984 and one in 1985. (Amsterdam 1984/1, p.25, lot 95 & 96), (Amsterdam 1985, p.49, lot 221)

 

For identically decorated bottles, please see:

Condition: A firing flaw and chip to the footring.

 

References:

Volker 1954, reprint 1971, Pl. VI, cat. 8b

Stamford 1981, cat. 140

Amsterdam 1984/1, lot 95 & 96

Amsterdam 1984/2, lot 95-96

Amsterdam 1985, lot 221 

Howard Farrar 1987

Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, Pl.48

M. Rinaldi 1989, Pl.215

Howard 1997, cat. 16

Jörg & Van Campen 1997, cat. 52

 

Price: Sold.

 

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2011256
2011256

Sold Ceramics - Sold Shipwreck Porcelains - The Hatcher Junk (1643-1646) - Page 1 

 

Object 2011256

 

Bird feeder

 

China

 

c.1643

  

Provenance: The Hatcher Collection, Christie’s Amsterdam, 14 March 1984 & 14 February 1985.

 

Height 38 mm (1.50 inch), diameter 61 mm (2.40 inch), diameter of rim 40 mm (1.57 inch), weight 39 grams (1.38 ounce (oz.))

 

Bird feeder of circular form with short neck, one side with two small loup handles, the base slightly pointed. Decorated in underglaze blue with lotus heads growing from scrolling stems with curled leaves above a border of pointed leaves encircling the base. Marked around the rim with the Imperial Reign Mark; 'Da Ming Xuan de nian zhi'. Made during the Xuande reign of the Great Ming dynasty six-character mark (1423-1435), underglaze blue. (Amsterdam 1984/1, pp.7-9 & pp.40-41), (Amsterdam 1985, pp.26-27)

 

The range of shapes of wares available in the Hatcher junk illustrates what a south Asian porcelain trading vessel of the mid-17th Century might be expected to contain. The cargo also includes objects which normally did not reach the West. This wreck should be seen in its historical context. There was a Dutch pewter jug found in the wreck, which certainly suggests a connection with the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC), headquarters at Batavia. The native Ming dynasty was overthrown in 1644 and the resulting civil war substantially upset Chinese trade with the VOC and other western powers. The rebellion interrupted Junk trade to the VOC headquarters at Formosa, the entrepot for ceramics bound ultimately for Batavia. The contents of this wreck suggest a considerable conservatism in the production of Chinese domestic blue and white for the first half of the 17th Century. Types of kraak porcelain which were discovered in the Witte Leeuw wreck (which sank in 1613) are closely mirrored in the porcelain of this ship, 30 to 40 years later, it is often said that the Dutch were very conservative in their porcelain taste during the first half the 17th century. It may well be that the VOC went on buying kraak type wares, and the reason why such large amounts of dishes, bowls and jars survived especially in the Netherlands, is that, in fact, there was no export porcelain alternative readily available which the VOC could buy in quantity from Chinese trading Junks. Many of the smaller pieces offered from this wreck bear earlier reign-marks, mostly of the late Ming Emperors none unfortunately of Tianqi or Chongzheng, but equally none with Kangxi marks or cyclical dates for the earliest years of the Manchu Qing dynasty. (Amsterdam 1985, pp.7-8)

 

When in 1984 a cargo of Chinese porcelain was raised from the bottom of the South China Sea by Michael Hatcher, the market was not ready for the quantities of Ming porcelain which suddenly appeared. Nor was it ready for the special effect on the glaze which centuries under the seas had produced. Belgium antiques dealer Axel Vervoordt was captivated by the romance of the cargo and bought almost the entire consignment at the first auction. Only then did dealers and collectors realize the importance of the cargo, and prices soon rocketed, turning Vervoordt's venture into what he described as the best deal he has ever made. (Howard Farrar 1987)

 

In total only ten bird feeders were sold, six with diameter 63 mm (2.48 inch), two with diameter 60 mm (2.36 inch) and two with diameter 40 mm (1.57 inch). (Amsterdam 1984/1, lot 208 - 213), (Amsterdam 1985, lot 123 & 124).

 

For identically decorated bird feeders, please see:

Condition: Perfect.

 

References:

Amsterdam 1984/1, lot 208 - 213

Amsterdam 1985, lot 123 & 124 

Howard Farrar 1987

Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, Pl.107

Howard 1997, cat. 16

 

Price: Sold.

 

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2011773
2011773

Sold Ceramics - Sold Shipwreck Porcelains - The Hatcher Junk (1643-1646) - Page 1 

 

Object 2011773

 

Wine cup

 

China

 

c.1643

  

Provenance: The Hatcher Collection, Christie’s Amsterdam, 12 and 13 June 1984.

 

Height 43 mm (1.69 inch), diameter of rim 51 mm (2.01 inch), diameter of footring 19 mm (0.75 inch), weight 28 grams (0.99 ounce (oz.))

 

Wine cup on footring of conical shape with a slightly flaring rim. Decorated in underglaze blue with a dragon leaping through cloud scrolls to gasp the flaming pearl, between a double line border around the foot and a single line around the rim. On the base the original orange/red Christie's Amsterdam circular paper auction label which reads: Hatcher Collection Christie's June '84.

 

There were 7,800 cups in a very wide range of shapes and decorations on the Hatcher junk, but no kraak ones. The fashion for drinking tea and coffee had recently spread from the Middle East to Europe, and cups in new styles were in great demand. However, we cannot assume from their absence on the Hatcher junk that they were no longer made, and it may equally well be that the demand for them continued to match the kraak dishes, bowls and flasks on European dinner tables. (Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, p.39)

 

About twenty similarly shaped wine cups were salvaged from the wreck of the East Indiaman Witte Leeuw which sank in 1613. The discovery of such fine wares having been made for export before 1612 was rather surprising. It has always been believed that such porcelain belonged either to Imperial ware, of which only pieces trickled to Europe during that time, or that they dated from a later period. Proof that this type of ware had come to Europe at the beginning of the 17th century comes from Ms Gordon Lee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In the J.G. Johnson collection there is a still life painting by Christoffel van den Berghe (working in Middelburg from 1617-1642), dated 1617 on which two wine cups are painted which are exactly the same as those from the Witte Leeuw. A second historical source was found in the inventory of the Art Cabinet of Gustavus Adolf of Sweden which was put together before 1634. In it, there are three wine cups of the same type as those from the Wite Leeuw. Furthermore, at excavations at the James River Basin in Virginia, Dr. Julia B. Curtis saw that several sherds excavated from various tenant settlements near Jamestown are of the same type as the wine cups from the Witte Leeuw. The settlements date from 1618-1650. The East Indiaman the Banda, sunk at Mauritius in 1615 (two years after the Witte Leeuw) had on board a private cargo of Chinese porcelain. Among the wares a large quantity of these wine cups was found. (Pijl-Ketel 1982)

 

 

 

Christoffel van den Berghe, Dutch (active Middelburg), active c.1617 - after 1628 Philadelphia Museum of Art, (source: www.philamuseum.org) The painting is not included in this 2011773 offer.

 

The shape is typical Chinese and resembles the well-known wine cup or in Japan, sake cup. On VOC lists with porcelain, the name 'pimpelkens' occurs frequently. A 'pimpelken'  could be a small cup or glass from which brandewijn (a kind of brandy) was drunk. On ships, they were also used as a measure for rations (for instance fruit juice against scurvy). The name 'pimpelkens' therefore probably refers to such types of wine cups. (Pijl-Ketel 1982)

  

In total 2,184 of these 43 mm (2.87 inch) wine cups decorated with a dragon leaping through cloud scrolls to gasp the flaming pearl were sold by Christie's Amsterdam on 12 and 13 June 1984 divided over the lots: 71-96, 379-420B and 500-509. (Amsterdam 1984/2)

 

For identically wine cups, please see:

For similarly shaped wine cups, please see:

Condition: Perfect.

 

References:

Pijl-Ketel 1982, pp. 143-144 & inv.no: NG 1977-34W & NG 1977-128W

Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, pp. 32-37

Amsterdam 1984/2, lot 71-96. lot 379-420B & lot 500-509

www.philamuseum.org

 

Price: Sold.

 

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2012040
2012040

Sold Ceramics - Sold Shipwreck Porcelains - The Hatcher Junk (1643-1646) - Page 1 

 

Object 2012040

 

Bowl

 

China

 

c.1643

  

Provenance: The Hatcher Collection, Christie’s Amsterdam, 14 March 1984 or 12 and 13 June 1984.

 

Height 57 mm (2.24 inch), diameter of rim 115 mm (4.53 inch), diameter of footring 43 mm (1.69 inch), weight 145 grams (5.12 ounce (oz.))

 

Bowl on footring, spreading sides and a straight rim. Decorated in underglaze blue under a degraded glaze with two wide spread flower sprays. The inside is undecorated. On the base the original orange/red Christie's Amsterdam circular paper auction label which reads: Hatcher Collection Christie's June '84.

 

For identically shaped, sized and decorated bowls, please see:

Condition: Some tiny fleabites to the rim.

 

References:

Amsterdam 1985, pp.7-8

Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, pp.8-19 & Pl. 6

 

Price: Sold.

 

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More pictures of object 2012041, another identically, shaped, sized and decorated, sold bowl >>

2012042
2012042

Sold Ceramics - Sold Shipwreck Porcelains - The Hatcher Junk (1643-1646) - Page 1 

 

Object 2012042

 

Bowl

 

China

 

c.1643

  

Provenance: The Hatcher Collection, Christie’s Amsterdam, 14 March 1984 or 12 and 13 June 1984.

 

Height 57 mm (2.24 inch), diameter of rim 115 mm (4.53 inch), diameter of footring 41 mm (1.61 inch), weight 161 grams (5.68 ounce (oz.))

 

Bowl on footring, spreading sides and a straight rim. Decorated in underglaze blue under a degraded glaze with two wide spread riverscapes. The inside is undecorated. On the base the remains of the original orange/red Hatcher Collection Christie's Amsterdam June '84, circular paper auction label.

 

For identically shaped and sized The Hatcher Collection bowls, please see:

Condition: Three shallow glaze rough spots to the rim.

 

References:

Amsterdam 1985, pp.7-8

Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, pp.8-19 & Pl. 6

 

Price: Sold.

 

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