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A Chinese export porcelain VOC dish

Canton, Yongzheng period, circa 1730

Diam. 23 cm

Executed in rose-pink, yellow, and soft blue-green enamels, this design follows in almost every aspect a silver ducatoon of 1728, with even the rim of the plate imitating the ribbed milling of the coin. On a shield is a crowned rampant lion, 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 is shown supported by two crowned rampant lions. Below the shield is the monogram of the VOC, the Dutch East India Company, above the date 1728 and around it the heraldic motto of the Dutch Republic CONCORDIA RES PARVAE CRESCUNT (by unity small things grow).

The first ducatoon, or zilveren rijder, on which the design of this plate was based, arrived in Canton on the 2nd of August 1729 with the Coxhorn, the first VOC ship to sail straight to Canton and not by way of Batavia. It arrived back in Amsterdam in 1730 with the ordered porcelain in this design. This is an early example of the so-called Chine de Commande porcelain and although the Cantonese artists had a zilveren rijder as an example, they didn’t really understand the design, giving the lions grimacing human faces and cape-like manes. They also didn’t understand the Latin letters, since the R ends in a truncated fashion, the V is an inverted A, and the E looks more like a Chinese character. For a cup and saucer with the same design see: Uit Verre Streken, June 2017, no. 49.

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