REF No. 6452
Chinese export porcelain dinner plate with European musicians

Qianlong period circa 1740
Portuguese Market
Diameter: 9 inches; 23cm

A fine famille rose dinner plate with a central scene of a European couple seated on a terrace, with a parrot on a swing between them, the scene framed by an elaborate rococo cartouche, the rim with four landscape panels in puce enamel reserved on a floral bianca-sopra-bianca ground.

This rare scene is of a coded erotic nature, the man is playing a clarinet style instrument and the woman seems to be singing. The bird on a swing symbolises the flexible nature of virtue in such circumstances. A parrot, with exotic gaudy colouring, was often associated with courtesans.

Scenes such as this were popular in the eighteenth century and many variants are known on Chinese export porcelain. This scene has also been recorded on one tea and coffee service with a monogramme replacing the parrot and is also known en grisaille and en camaieu violine.

This design may have been inspired by elements of designs for a set of six of Beauvais ‘grotesques’ tapestries by Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (1636-1699) known as the ‘Berain Grotesques’ because of the influence of Jean Berain (1740-1711) - or by other designs made at Beauvais.

References: Cohen & Cohen 2000, cover item a coffee pot from the service with a monogramme; Hervouët & Bruneau 1986, p185, No 8.8 a dinner plate of this type; Shimizu & Chabanne 2003, 221, No 174, a plate; Krahl & Harrison-Hall 1994, pl 67; Lunsingh Scheurleer1966, back cover image; Howard 1994, pl 203, teabowl and saucer.


Chinese export porcelain dinner plate with European musicians