A JAPANESE ARITA PORCELAIN BOTTLE WITH THE INITIALS OF OPPERHOOFD OF DESHIMA AND GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE FORMER DUTCH EAST-INDIES JOHANNES CAMPHUYS
Late 17th century
A porcelain apothecary bottle with a bulbous body and tapering neck decorated in underglaze blue with branches of flowering peony and foliage with two perched and two flying birds. On the base the initials “I.C” inside a wreath.
H. 25.4 cm
The shape of these bottles is derived from a Dutch glass bottle. The Dutch East Indian Company must have brought many of these bottles used on board of ships, in kitchens and by pharmacists to Deshima. The initials “I.C.” could stand for Johannes Camphuys. Before becoming Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies in Batavia from 1684 to 1691, Johannes Camphuys was “Opperhoofd” in Deshima intermittently between 1670 and 1677. He retained a lasting love for Japan and its people from this period. However Christiaan Jörg, Fine & Curious, Japanse Export Porcelain in Dutch Collections, thinks it more likely that Johannes Camphuys would have had his initials in a more obvious place and suggests “I.C” may stand for ius citronensis, or lemon juice. However, why the content of the bottle should be indicated underneath is even less likely.