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Rare pair of Encre de Chine Chinese Export 'Table Bay' dishes

A rare pair of Chinese export porcelain ‘Table Bay’ dishes

Qianlong period, mid-18th century, circa 1740

Diam. 23.8 cm (each)

Finely pencilled in black, the Dutch flags in red and blue enamels, with Dutch ships in Table Bay, with Table Mountain, Devil's Peak and Signal Hill in the distance.

The border is decorated in the style of the du Paquier period of Vienna porcelain, around the well is a gold spearhead decoration, and touches of gold highlighting all over.

According to the Rijksmuseum, when sailors [or more plausible Captains or Officials] on their way to Asia would arrive at the Cape, they had a few months to replenish and visit the town. Often they would climb Table Mountain and admire the so recognizable view. Captured by this view, and by the view from the ship, they would purchase plates [or even whole dinner services] as the ones presented as a ‘souvenir’. (For a comparable dish, see Rijksmuseum, AK-NM-13510)

As discussed by Woodward in Oriental Ceramics at the Cape of Good Hope 1652-1795, there are different versions of these 'Cape of Good Hope' dishes, of which the most numerous are in full colour. Grisaille or Encre de Chine versions are the rarest and scarce. Whilst all basically the same, they show little differences in detail and shading which enlivens all hand-painting and also a marked difference in the intensity of black; some versions are boldly pencilled with thick black lines and others, are much paler and more delicate in appearance, are drawn with great fineness. 

C.S. Woodward, Oriental Ceramics at the Cape of Good Hope 1652-1795: An account of the porcelain trade of the Dutch East India Company with particular reference to ceramics with the V.O.C. monogram, the Cape market, and South African collections, A.A. Balkema, Cape Town & Rotterdam, 1974, pp. 131-140 (ill. 157)

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