A RARE CHINESE FAMILLE ROSE 'V.O.C.' CUP AND SAUCER
Yongzheng period (1723-1735), circa 1730
Decorated with a shield with 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 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. 10.2 x H. 1.7 cm (saucer)
Diam. 6.6 x H. 3.6 cm (bowl)
As can be seen the decoration on the cup and saucer is a close copy of the silver rider or ducatoon minted in 1728 for use in the Dutch East Indies. C.S.Woodward in her book Oriental Ceramics at the Cape 1652- 1765, describes the conflict about the minting of this ducatoon. In 1726 the Company arranged with the provinces of Holland, Zeeland and West-Friesland to have ducatoon minted for use specifically in the East and differentiated from those struck for circulation in the Netherlands. Some ducatoons were actually minted in 1726 but then trouble arose because the Company had not consulted the States General nor the Master-General of Mints. The uproar was such that all the 1726 ducatoons must have been melted down because no surviving example is known. However, the board of the VOC, the Gentlemen Seventeen, continued to press the States General for permission to mint the coins and at last in 1728 were granted permission. This ducatoon was popularly known as a silver rider (zilveren rijder) as it shows a cuirassed horseman galloping with below the provincial arms, varying according in which province it was minted and the inscription MON : FOED : PRO : (for instance WESTF) : IN USUM SOCIET : IND : ORIENT (Coin of the United Provinces [mint name] for use of the East India Company). On the reverse, the design corresponds in every respect to the decoration on the porcelain described above including the narrow pink band hatched in rouge-de-fer that conforms, as nearly as the artist can make it, to the reeded edge of the coin he was copying. The first silver rider to reach Canton must have arrived there on the 2nd of August 1729 with the Coxhorn, the first Dutch ship directed straight to Canton and not by way of Batavia. It arrived back in Amsterdam in 1730 with 251 porcelain sugar bowls with lids in this design as part of the first shipment of porcelain straight from Canton. This is a rather early example of armorial porcelain decorated in famille rose. The decoration is Western in inspiration but the Cantonese artists have naturalised the heraldic lions, giving them grimacing Oriental faces, extraordinary crowns and cape-like manes. Also, the mistakes to be found in the inscription make clear the trouble Chinese scribes initially had with Western lettering. On the present bowl and saucer, the R ends in a curiously truncated fashion, on the saucer RES lacks the S, the V in PARVAE 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”.