REF No. 6630
Pair of Painted Enamel on Copper large saucer dishes, with European subject
Qianlong period 1736-95
Chinese or Western market
Diameter: 13½ inches; 34 cm
A good pair of Chinese painted enamel on copper large saucer dishes, finely painted to both sides, the front with central European subject scenes, the rims each with five quatrefoil panels of mythical beasts and their young, reserved on an iron red and green cell diaper, the reverses with sprays of flowers.
These are of exceptional quality and probably date from very early in the reign of the Qianlong emperor. The central European subject scenes are an example of the ‘reverse chinoiserie’ decoration that is found on a range of painted enamel items from this period. The European figures have been rearranged into a new composition by the Chinese artists, in a scene that seems strange to a Western eye. They are not copied directly from Western print sources and were made to supply a taste for Western subjects that were fashionable in China.
The comparable decorative schemes in the West might be Meissen porcelain with panels of Chinese scenes, after the designs of Petrus Schenck.
It is interesting to note that the figures on these dishes have European clothes and hairstyles from the 1680 suggesting they are derived from prints taken to China some sixty year before.
A similar dish, formerly in the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street, is in the Victoria & Albert Museum (No 4936-1901), with a different central scene and panels of beasts and their young, though with a different colouring in the cell diaper.