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

Qianlong period, 1735-1750

Diam. 23.6 cm each

The porcelain painted in polychrome enamels and gold depicting Dutch ships ay Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope, the inside rim with a ‘Meissen’ border of a continuous band of C-scrolls.

Few bays are so easily recognizable as Table Bay with the flat expanse of Table Mountain, and Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head on either side together with signal Hill to the far right, the last two mountains with Dutch flags on top. At the foot of Table Mountain lies Cape Town, to the left the Castle of Good Hope with the Dutch flag and to the far right the gallows. In the foreground four large ships lie for anchor with furled sails and an array of Dutch flags, with two rowing boats, and closer to the shore four more smaller boats. Three different versions of the Table Bay dishes are known, two slightly different depictions in enamel colours and one in encre de Chine, of which the present dishes are the rarest and most beautiful.