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A rare pair of Chinese export ‘Table Bay’ dishes

Qianlong-period, 1735-1750

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

Diam. 23.6 cm

Few bays are so easily recognisable as Table Bay with the flat expance 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 a 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 forground 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 dish are known, two slightly differnet depictions in enamel colours and one in encre de Chine. Dishes decorated in the well with scenes of Dutch ships at anchor in Table Bay are rare nevertheless.