REF No. 6652
Chinese export armorial blue and white plate with the Portuguese arms of Bacelares
Kangxi period circa 1700
Diameter: 8½ inches (21.5cm)
A very rare Chinese export porcelain small dinner plate decorated in underglaze blue with a central armorial shield, surrounded by scrolling vine with clusters of grapes, the cavetto with floral reserves and chrysanthemums on a swastika trellis ground.
These arms have been identified as those of Pedro (or Pero) Vaz Soares Bacelar, Fidalgo da Casa de Sua Magestade, born circa 1645, the son of Duarte Claudio Huet and Constança Malheiro Pereira Bacelar Sotomaior. Constança was the daughter of Marcos Malheiro Pereira Bacelar & Helena de Meireles Sotomaior. Marcos was Knight of the Order of Christ and General of the Minho army and was also significantly involved in paper manufacture in the city of Braga. Pedro was probably named after his 4 x great uncle, Pedro Vaz Bacelar who became Friar Geronimo. Pedro had at least one brother Antonio.
Pedro was an Infantry Captain and adventurer in India and seems to have travelled widely in the Portuguese colonies, becoming Governor of Mombasa Fort. In 1701 he is listed as a captain in Fort Bassein (Baçaim), a dependency of Goa in western India.
He married Maria Cyrne (her third marriage - she had first married Rodrigues Garcia de Tavora in India and then Roque Pacheco Corte-Real). They had one son recorded, Carlos Vaz Cyrne Bacellar, who is listed as Fidalgo Cavalleiro, por Alvará, in 1697, and who died without issue.
A few plates with these arms are also recorded painted in rouge de fer and gilt. It is very unusual to have a service rendered in two colours like this and it remains possible that they were ordered at different times. The use of scrolling vine in the decoration is a feature of porcelain made for the Portuguese Market in this period.
The arms here are loosely drawn and the crest has become a deer rather than a lion or leopard with a vine leaf on its head. The animal is also facing the 'wrong' direction as the convention for crests is to face the other way. However this suggests that the Chinese artists were presented with a seal fob or signet ring to copy - and this, of course, would have the crest reversed so a wax imprint would then be correct. Such a small item might also be difficult to read and could explain the demi-lion with a vine leaf on its forehead (something unfamiliar to the Chinese) being interpreted as a deer.
Another member of the family was Manuel Pereira Bacelar, Governor of Vila Nova de Cerveira e Monção, in the late 17th century, who lived at Casa do Carboal, which has his coat of arms on the exterior and over the entrance gate.
References: Castro 2007, p107, the blue and white plate with attribution of these arms; Felgueiras Gayo Carvalhos de Basto 1989 (originally 1938), Nobiliário das Famílias de Portugal, Braga, 2nd Edition, Vol II, p357, genealogy of this family; Diccionario Aristocratico (Fidalgos de Casa Real), 1840, p378, lists Pedro as Fidalgo.