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A rare pair of Chinese export ‘Table Bay’ dishes  ​  Qianlong-period, 1735-1750

A rare large Chinese export porcelain 'Table Bay' dish

Qianlong period, circa 1735-1750


Diam. 27.5 cm

This version of the ‘Table Bay’ porcelain documented is decorated in polychrome enamels and gold and with a rim decorated with a Meissen-style border. The Cantonese artists responsible for the Table Bay dishes must have been given a sketch or print to guide them. There most likely were more artists who painted these dishes because there are many minor differences in the designs. The ships on the present dish have no rigging, and in that respect, it is similar to a dish that belonged to Hendrik Swellengrebel, Governor of the Cape of Good Hope from 1739 till 1751, but in other respects, there are slight differences (see Uit Verre Streken, June 2009, item 15).
For a pair of small but similar table bay dishes previously sold by us, see, idem, November 2021, no. 37, and for a pair en grisaille see, June 2022, no. 19.

C.S. Woodward, Oriental Ceramics at the Cape of Good Hope 1652-1795: An account of the porcelain trade of the Dutch East India Company with particular reference to ceramics with the V.O.C. monogram, the Cape market, and South African collections, A.A. Balkema, Cape Town & Rotterdam, 1974, pp. 131-140

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.

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