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Canton, Yongzheng period, circa 1730

Porcelain decorated in rose-pink, yellow and soft blue-green enamels, on a shield a lion rampant crowned, holding in his left paw a bunch of seven arrows symbolising the seven provinces of the United Netherlands, and in his right paw a sword, the whole supported by two lions rampant and crowned. Below the monogram of the VOC, above the date 1728 and surrounding the inscription CONCORDIA RES PARVAE CRESCUNT (unity makes small things grow), the heraldic motto of the Dutch Republic.


Diam. saucer: 10.7 cm

Diam. bowl: 6.6 cm

Height of bowl: 3.6 cm



The design of this tea service, ordered by the Dutch East Indies Company, was based on a ducatoon (zilveren rijder) issued in 1728 in the Netherlands for use in the Dutch East Indies. The first silver rider to reach Canton arrived there on the 2nd of August 1729 with the Coxhorn, the first Dutch ship that sailed straight to Canton and not by way of Batavia. It came back in Amsterdam in 1730 with 251 sugar bowls with lids in this design as part of a shipment of porcelain straight from Canton.

This is a rather early example of Chine de Commande porcelain. Although the Cantonese artists had the “zilveren rijder” as an example, they gave the lions grimacing Oriental faces, extraordinary crowns and cape-like manes. Also, the mistakes to be found in the inscription make it clear that the Chinese initially had trouble with Western lettering. On the present bowl and saucer the R ends in a curiously truncated fashion, the V is an inverted A, and the E looks more like a Chinese character. Later in the 18th century, after having endlessly copied Western designs, the Chinese painters no longer made these charming “faults”. For a cup and saucer together with the silver rider see Uit Verre Streken June 2017, nr. 49.

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