REF No. 6697
Pair of Chinese export porcelain dinner plates, attributed to the 'Pronk workshop'
Qianlong period circa 1740
Diameter: 9 inches; 23cm
A pair of Chinese export porcelain dinner plates decorated in blue enamel and grisaille with the ‘parrot on a perch’ design attributed to the Pronk workshop.
These appear to be the only recorded examples of this design in this unusual size. All other pieces are from a single teaservice using the blue enamel. However a recent discovery of a teapoy with this design in famille rose shows that this was also produced in polychrome, in colours that match the Meissen service.
This is a very rare pattern that has been attributed to the ‘Pronk workshop’ because of its distinctive style, and further corroborated by the unusual shape of the cup in the teaservice which is known in some other examples with Pronk or Pronk-attributed designs (see Cohen & Cohen 2015, No 76). The parrot shown here is also in the same pose as the parrot in the Doctor’s Visit design.
The actual design has been attributed to Pieter Schenck in some auction catalogues because of a significant Meissen service with this design (see image) and Schenck’s prints of views and devices were used by Meissen extensively. Schenck had been sent to Japan by the VOC around 1700 but a definitive account of this has yet to be established.
Although not by Pronk himself it is reasonable to assume that this is from the same workshop. As the venture came to an end because it could not be made financially viable, it seems that a wider range of porcelains were being put together in the workshop using some elements of the Pronk designs and some from other sources. These may have included patterns such as the trumpeter, the palmette, the ‘insect’ pattern, the various garnitures of square section vases using elements of Maria Merian’s prints, and this design. It is possible that a piece of the Meissen porcelain was taken to China to be used as the model for this.
The parrot in this design is also known on some garniture vases, in a much reduced version - and the spaniel also appears on some plates, with the parrot on the rim, that are clearly a little later and roughly drawn.
A mezzotint by Pieter Schenk of a portrait of his daughter, Cecilia, has a similar parrot in the background.
References: a teabowl and saucer from the service is in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, No 642&A-1903; Sargent 2012, p290, a yellow/purple palmette cup of this shape; Cohen & Cohen 2015, No 76, a cup and saucer with this pattern.