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Latest update; January 23, 2018.
Shipwreck Porcelains - The Nanking Cargo, 1752
Coffee cup and saucer
Provenance: The Nanking Cargo sale, Christie's Amsterdam, 28 April - 2 May 1986
Height of coffee cup 44 mm (1.73 inch), diameter of rim 83 mm (2.27 inch), diameter of footring 34 mm (1.34 inch), weight 111 grams (3.92 ounce (oz.))
Height of saucer 24 mm (0.94 inch), diameter of rim 132 mm (5.20 inch), diameter of footring 75 mm (2.95 inch), weight 61 grams (2.15 ounce (oz.))
Coffee cup and saucer on footring, straight rims. Batavia Brown covered with underglaze dark brown and underglaze-blue with a small open pavilion perched on a promontory within overhanging wintery foliage and evergreens, a wide river meandering past a similar retreat on an outcrop in the right background. The reverse is covered in underglaze dark brown. The teacup is decorated en suite. On the bases the original circular paper Christie's The Nanking Cargo sale lot 5612 labels proving they have been one of 30 similar teacups and saucers sold in lot 5612. (Amsterdam 1986, p.256)
On Monday January 3, 1752, the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) ship Geldermalsen, struck a reef on her return journey to the Netherlands and sank in the South China Sea. Of the crew 32 survived and 80 went down with the ship and her cargo of tea, raw silk, textiles, dried wares, groceries, lacquer and porcelain.
The cargo of Chinese porcelain was originally potted in Jingdezhen, Jiangzi province then shipped to Nanking for delivery to the VOC vessel Geldermalsen for final transportation to the Netherlands. The Geldermalsen struck a reef on her return journey to the Netherlands and sank in the South China Sea on January 3, 1752. The cargo was recovered by Captain Michael Hatcher and his team in 1985 and sold by Christie's Amsterdam on 28 April - 2 May 1985 as 'The Nanking Cargo. Chinese Export Porcelain and Gold' two hundred and thirty five years later. (Jörg 1986/1. pp.39-59).
An interesting detail is that Captain Michael Hatcher found the wreck of the Geldermalsen on the same reef as he earlier, in 1983, found the wreck of a Chinese junk. both wrecks were about a mile apart. This Chinese Junk wreck came to be known as "The Hatcher Junk" she had a cargo of Kraak and Transitional porcelain objects that were dated c.1643. (Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, p.27)
The design on this coffee cup and saucer is known as the 'Batavian Pavilion' pattern. In total 1,674 coffee cups and saucers and 240 saucers without coffee cups with the 'Batavian Pavilion' pattern were sold divided over the lots: 5600-5638. (Amsterdam 1986, pp.256-258)
The market in the Netherlands for coffee- and tea cups and saucers seemed insatiable. Annually some 1000,000 cups and saucers arrive on each ship. The difference between a coffee cup and a tea cup was not yet clearly defined up till now, but Hatcher's find has made things easier. They are always cups without handles. The coffee cup is a little bigger and wider, on average with a diameter of 85 mm (3.35 inch) and a height of 45 mm (1.77 inch). Ordinary tea cups measure 75 mm (2.95 inch) diameter and 35 mm (1.38 inch) height, small tea cups 60 mm (2.36 inch) diameter and 33 mm (1.30 inch) height. The orders of the previous years show that the type with an even brown glaze on the outside is considered to be a coffee cup, for this type hardly occurs under the heading tea cup, or in small quantities only. This fits well with the recovered cargo: most brown cups are large, only one type is smaller and might have been a tea cup. According to the archives coffee- and tea cups with handles only became fashionable after 1760. (Jörg 1986/1. p.67).
In total eight different designs on tea- and coffee cups and saucers were discoverd. decorated in underglaze blue, Batavia Brown covered with underglaze dark brown and underglaze-blue and Chinese Imari.
Besides this 'Batavian Pavilion' pattern for examples of four of the other eight, previously sold, designs please see:
the 'Batavian Bamboo and Peony' pattern.
the 'Pagoda Riverscape' pattern in underglaze blue
the 'Blue Pine' pattern in underglaze blue
the 'Imari Pavilion' pattern
In the Netherlands, porcelain decorated in this type of underglaze brown has historically been called "Batavia Brown" or "Capucijnergoed" ("Chick-pea ware", after the legume). The first name may have been coined because most goods exported to The Netherlands from the East were sent via Batavia and has nothing to do with a Batavian production or decoration, It is a very common type with the decoration usually contained within medallions. Occasionally, a gold decoration has been painted on the brown glaze. The brown colour is achieved by using iron oxide as a pigment, which like underglaze blue, needs to be fired at high temperatures. Considerable quantities were exported to the Western and Inter-Asian markets from c.1700. The pieces are rarely refined and can be considered as articles for everyday use by the middle-classes. (Jörg 2002/2, p.120)
Saucers: A frit to the footring.
Price: € 249 - $ 304 - £ 219
(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)
Chine de commande - Western Subjects 1680-1800 - Western Designers - Bonnart, Nicolas (1646-1717)
Height 22 mm (0.87 inch), diameter of rim 157 mm (6.18 inch), diameter of footring 82 mm (3.23 inch), weight 124 grams (4.37 ounce (oz.))
Dish on footring, flat rim. Decorated in underglaze blue with a group of Europeans in fashionable dress on a tiled terrace by a pavilion. The ladies' hair is dressed à la mode Fontanges, and the man wears a long wig. On the rim a border with rocks, flower sprays and birds in flight. On the reverse three wide peony sprays. Marked on the base with the symbol mark, Artemisia leaf, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
(Reproduced from, The Choice of the Private Trader. The Private Market in Chinese Export Porcelain illustrated from the Hodroff Collection, (D.S. Howard, Zwemmer, London, 1994), p.41, cat. 7. (copyright in bibliographic data and images is held by the publisher or by their respective licensors: all rights reserved) This dish is not included in this sale/offer.)
Above a dish with a design derived from French 'costume' prints of the end of the seventeenth century. This 'Music Party' design was copied from a print engraved by the Parisian Nicolas Bonnart (1646-1718), and drawn by his brother Robert Bonnart, which is shown in the accompanying illustration.
A print engraved by the Parisian Nicolas Bonnart (1646-1718), and drawn by his brother Robert Bonnart,
(Reproduced from, China for the West. Chinese Porcelain and other Decorative Arts for Export illustrated from the Mottahedeh Collection, (D.S. Howard & J. Ayers, Philip Wilson Publishers for Sotheby Parke Bernet Publications, London 1978), vol. 1, p.77, cat. 35. (copyright in bibliographic data and images is held by the publisher or by their respective licensors: all rights reserved) This engraving is not included in this sale/offer.)
Nicolas Bonnart and his brothers Robert, Henri and Jean were all engaged in the production and sale of engravings from c.1675 at addresses in the rue St Jacques, which remained a centre of this activity down to the nineteenth century. Of no outstanding distinction as artists, they nevertheless acquired fame both through their fashion prints, which reflect with unusual accuracy the changing modes of the day, and from their introduction as models for these of leading figures of the court.
It would be of interest to know trough what channels this unusual group of porcelains came to be ordered. Both the faithfulness of the copying and the hatched style of the drawing confirm the prints as their direct source. However, they as well have been made for clients in Holland where such prints appeared in pirated editions, e.g.by I. Gole of Amsterdam. (Howard & Ayers 1978, vol. 1, pp.77-78)
Reproduced from, The Choice of the Private Trader. The Private Market in Chinese Export Porcelain illustrated from the Hodroff Collection, (D.S. Howard, Zwemmer, London, 1994), p.41, cat. 7. (copyright in bibliographic data and images is held by the publisher or by their respective licensors: all rights reserved) This dish is not included in this sale/offer.
Above a rather deep dish with a flat rim, painted with a group of Europeans in fashionable dress on a tiled terrace by a pavilion with a classical cornice. The lady seated to the right holds a flower to her face. The girl hands her another from a basket held by a servant, while a man in the background also holds up a flower spray. The ladies' hair is dressed à la mode Fontanges, and the man wears a long wig. Round the sides in eight arcaded panels is repeated a design of two women standing on either side of a plant; one holding a flower spray and the other a fan. After an unidentified print possibly illustrating the sense of smell, from a set of 'The Senses': judging from its resemblance in the style of this dish: this to seem to be the work of the brothers Bonnart. A simplified version of the central design is found also on some smaller plates, 6 1/4 inch in diameter which have a rim border of flower sprays and birds. (Howard & Ayers 1978, vol. 1, pp.77-78)
For identically shaped, sized and decorated, simplified version dishes, please see:
- La porcelaine des Compagnies des Indes a décor Occidental, (F. & N. Hervouët & Y. Bruneau, Flammarion - Pere Castor, Paris 1986), p.106 cat. 4.77.
- Fine Chinese Export Porcelain from the Collection of Angelo Castelo Branco Cerqueira Caldas, auction sale catalogue Sotheby's London, 8th May 1990, pp.85-87, lot 169 (one of a pair).
Condition: Two fleabites, two frits, a chip and a hairline to the reverse rim.
Price: € 699 - $ 858 - £ 622
(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)
Shipwreck Porcelains - The Hatcher Junk (1643-1646)
Provenance: The Hatcher Collection, Christie’s Amsterdam, 14 March 1984.
Height 41 mm (1.61 inch), diameter of rim 203 mm (7.99 inch), diameter of footring 106 mm (4.17 inch), weight 313 grams (11.04 ounce (oz.))
Dish on footring, slightly scalloped flat rim. Decorated in a light shade of underglaze blue under a degraded glaze with flowering plants issuing from rockwork encircled by an eight-pointed scalloped medallion. The sides and rim with large panels filled with peach and auspicious symbols and narrow panels filled with a diaper or scale pattern and dots. On the reverse five large panels filled with dots within a larger circle alternate with narrow panels filled with stylised lingzhi. On the base a rectangular paper auction label that reads: The Hatcher Collection, Christie's Amsterdam, 14-03-1984.
The Hatcher Cargo was recovered from the wreck of a Chinese junk in the South China seas port of Batavia (today Jakarta) by Captain Michael Hatcher in 1983, and was later sold in the Netherlands. They were a small part of what, at the time, was the largest cargo of Chinese porcelain ever recovered in good condition from the sea. Captain Michael Hatcher and his crew brought up about 25,000 pieces of unbroken porcelain from the Hatcher junk those sold through four sales at Christies Amsterdam. The very wide diversity and quality of many of the pieces created great interest, and the date was established by the existence in the find of two pieces with the Chinese cyclical date for 1643.
Captain Michael Hatcher and his crew brought up about 25,000 pieces of unbroken porcelain from the Hatcher junk. Those sold through four sales at Christies Amsterdam. Captain Hatcher returned to the site in 1985 and salvaged over 2,000 more pieces, most of which were sold through a London dealer, Heirloom and Howard. The great majority of the 25,000 pieces were Jingdezhen blue and white, but there were also interesting groups of celadon, blanc-de-Chine, coloured wares and provincial blue-and-white. (Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, pp.8-19)
The ship was almost certainly sailing from China to the Dutch base at Batavia from where cargoes were purchased and transhipped to Dutch East Indiamen for their journey to Europe.
The range of shapes of wares available in the Hatcher junk illustrates what a south Asian porcelain trading vessel of the mid-17th Century might be expected to contain. The cargo also includes objects which normally did not reach the West. This wreck should be seen in its historical context. There was a Dutch pewter jug found in the wreck, which certainly suggests a connection with the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie VOC), headquarters at Batavia. The native Ming dynasty was overthrown in 1644 and the resulting civil war substantially upset Chinese trade with the VOC and other western powers. The rebellion interrupted Junk trade to the VOC headquarters at Formosa, the entrepot for ceramics bound ultimately for Batavia. The contents of this wreck suggest a considerable conservatism in the production of Chinese domestic blue-and-white for the first half of the 17th Century. Types of kraak porcelain which were discovered in the Witte Leeuw wreck (which sank in 1613) are closely mirrored in the porcelain of this ship, 30 to 40 years later, it is often said that the Dutch were very conservative in their porcelain taste during the first half the 17th century. It may well be that the VOC went on buying kraak type wares, and the reason why such large amounts of dishes, bowls and jars survived especially in the Netherlands, is that, in fact, there was no export porcelain alternative readily available which the VOC could buy in quantity from Chinese trading Junks. Many of the smaller pieces offered from this wreck bear earlier reign-marks, mostly of the late Ming Emperors none unfortunately of Tianqi or Chongzheng, but equally none with Kangxi marks or cyclical dates for the earliest years of the Manchu Qing dynasty. (Amsterdam 1985, pp.7-8)
According to Rinaldi dishes found in the Hatcher Cargo can be classified as Border VII.3 dishes. Borders in this group show a great variety in their decorative motifs. The most common bears the sunflower motif alternating with large and simply drawn symbols. Dishes with similar border were found among the shards from the São Gonçalo, a Portuguese ship that sank along the south-east coast of South Africa in 1630. (Rinaldi 1989, pp.106-108)
The Dutch habitually placed their orders for plates and dishes in terms of 'full, half, third, quarter and eight sizes' which must have represented dimensions understood by the Dutch, the Chinese traders with whom they dealt and the potters. Actual measurements are almost never stated in the VOC records, and it is likely that there was in fact no common standard of measurement understood by all parties. Another standardizing factor would have been the use of moulds. These dishes were thrown on a wheel and then pressed over a mould to produce the indented panels that are so characteristic of kraak wares. (Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, p.37)
In total 48 of these 200 mm (7.87 inch), dishes, decorated with a bird and flowering plants issuing from rockwork were sold by Christie's Amsterdam on March 14, 1984. (Amsterdam 1984/1, lot 138, 139, 338A)
For similarly decorated dishes, please see:
- Fine and Important Late Ming and Transitional Porcelain, recently recovered from an Asian vessel in the South China Sea. The Property of Captain Michael Hatcher. Auction catalogue Christie’s Amsterdam, 14 March 1984, pp.30-31, lots 138 & 139, p.55, lots 338A & 339)
- The Hatcher Porcelain Cargoes. The Complete Record, (C. Sheaf & R. Kilburn, Oxford 1988), p.44, Pl.52.
Condition: Two fleabites and a frit to the rim.
Price: € 499 - $ 599 - £ 440
(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)
Japanese Blue and White wares 17th Century
Height 26 mm (1.02 inch), diameter of rim 202 mm (7.95 inch), diameter of footring 105 mm (4.13 inch), weight 261 grams (9.21 ounce (oz.))
Dish on footring, flat rim. On the base four spur-marks in a Y-pattern. Decorated in underglaze blue with a seated lady, flanked by children holding and waving a fan, in a theatre like setting. The lady observes the lodge of the theatre filled with a hundred children. The reverse is undecorated.
The lady depicted is most likely the Chinese goddess Guan Yin. Porcelain decorated with this design is known as 'Guan Yin in the hall of the hundred children'. Two versions of the design are known, one as described the other with a banderol filled with Chinese characters just above the box of the seated Guan Yin. The dishes were probably made from the end of the seventeenth century and for many decades. The design probably originated from China. Dishes like these were usually given to family members, whishing them rich offspring.
Guan Yin is the fertility goddess who left the greatest impact in the mortal world with many temples built in her honour. The ancient Chinese believed that after one prayed to her and brought a pair of embroidered shoes home, one would conceive a son soon. In some Chinese families today, she is a revered figure. Guan Yin is usually depicted as a beautiful, dignified and benevolent goddess carrying a child or holding a vase with a willow branch in it. These symbolise her duties of 'bestowing sons' and 'showering of compassion on mortal world'.
The Legend of Guan Yin Bringing Sons
Long ago there was a Taoist priest who needed the hearts of hundred young boys to produce the elixir of life. So he kidnapped hundred boys and locked them up in a dark room first.
Coincidentally on this night, Guan Yin was passing by and heard the cries of the children, She saw the priest sharpening his knife beside a pill on the table. Guan Yin flicked the pill away. She drew the priest out of the dark room and saved the children. However, Guan Yin did not know where the children stayed or who their parents were. Then she remembered hearing of an official in his fourties who was corrupt and childless. She thought of teaching him a lesson so she left the hundred children at his doorstep.
Upon discovering the children, the couple kept two children and decided to sell the rest for ten taels of silver per child. By dawn the next day. all the children had been taken away by many men and women. A magistrate's runner reported a young lady was responsible for it and she lived in the abode of Guan Yin. The couple knew it was the act of Guan Yin and died out of fright.
In this way, the story of Guan Yin bringing sons spread among the people. Now childless couples would pray to Guan Yin for a healthy baby. (Chinese Auspicious Culture, Beijing Foreign Language Press)
For a comparison between a Japanese and a Chinese version of the design, please see:
- H.A. Daendels, Catalogus tentoonstelling Japans blauw wit Porselein. Op Hollandse bestelling en in de Japanse smaak, exhibition catalogue Gemeentelijk Museum Het Princessehof, Leeuwarden 1981. Also Published as Mededelingenblad Nederlandse Vereniging van Vrienden van de Ceramiek, vols. 101/102, p.24, cat. 5a & 5b.
For an identically shaped, sized and decorated dish, please see:
- Japans porselein met blauwe decoraties uit de tweede helft van de zeventiende en de eerste helft van de achttiende eeuw. (D.F. Lunsingh Scheurleer in Mededelingenblad Nederlandse Vereniging van Vrienden van de Ceramiek, vols. 64/65, 1971), p.72, cat. 61.
For an identically shaped, sized and decorated dish with a banderol filled with Chinese characters, please see:
- Japans porselein met blauwe decoraties uit de tweede helft van de zeventiende en de eerste helft van de achttiende eeuw. (D.F. Lunsingh Scheurleer in Mededelingenblad Nederlandse Vereniging van Vrienden van de Ceramiek, vols. 64/65, 1971), p.72, cat. 62.
For a similarly decorated, Japanese bowl, please see:
- The Shibata Collection Part I, (The Kyushu Ceramic Museum, Kyushu, 1990), p.175, cat. 470.
- Complete Catalogue of the Shibata Collection, (The Kyushu Ceramic Museum, Kyushu 2003), p.396, cat. 3111.
Japanese Blue and White wares 17th Century - Dishes
Japan, Arita presumably Sarugawa
Provenance: Collection Clevering, Den Andel.
Height 99 mm (3.90 inch), diameter of rim 548 mm (21.57 inch), diameter of footring 137 mm (5.39 inch), weight ~ 7,800 grams (275.14 ounce (oz.))
Large dish on footring, flat rim. On the base twelve spur-marks. Fitted in a custom-made steel frame. Decorated in underglaze blue with two birds perched on a rock surrounded by various flowering plants observing two other birds in flight. On the sides large panels filled with flowering plants alternating with small panels filled with knotted tassels between a scale pattern ground. On the reverse two stylised peach sprays, a rectangular paper collectors label with the handwritten number: '354' and an old rectangular paper label with the printed text: 'Schoorsteen geveegd door AUG. DELEA - LEEUWARDEN Tel. 8552 - Giro 483138 Eewal 44 hoek Gr. Hoogstr.'
The decoration was copied from Chinese kraak porcelain. This style is characteristic of early Japanese export porcelain made for the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) to replace the well-known Chinese kraak and Transitional wares. Polychrome versions were made as well. (Jörg 2003/1, p.27)
In October 2016 auction house Omnia Kolham sold an important and interesting collection of Chinese and Japanse export porcelain. It concerned the collection Clevering from Den Andel, a collection mainly formed before the second World War and since then occassionally further expanded.
It was a typical 'Groninger' collection with blue-and-white and coloured export porcelain similar to that shipped to the Netherlands in the 17th and 18th centuries by the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC). 'Groninger' collectors were traditionally more fond of porcelain decorated in enamel colours than on blue-and-white and that preference was also clear in this collection.
Up for auction came a wide range of Chinese, but also Japanese porcelain for the Dutch market. In addition to the ornamental function - even now one can see on the 'Groninger Hogeland' plates and saucers as wall decorations - much of this China is still being used today on special occasions.
An important aspect of such an 'old' collection is the fact that it was collected at a time when export porcelain was not yet being copied. The authenticity of the pieces was thereby guaranteed.
Such comprehensive, classical-wide collections are rare. This collection was a great example of a 'Groninger' tradition of collecting oriental porcelain and how this porcelain was once part of the interior decoration of the 'Groninger' establishment during of the former century.
In 1982 the Groninger Museum organised the exhibition 'Oosterse keramiek uit Groninger kollekties'. Some of the exhibited objects, chosen by Jörg, came from the 'old' Clevering collection. This dish was one of the chosen objects and was published in the exhibitions complimentary catalogue as catalogue number 110.