The Vung Tao Cargo, from a trading vessel which sank in circa 1690 off the coast of Con Dao Island, near the southern coast of Vietnam.
PROPERTY OF A EUROPEAN COLLECTOR (LOTS 44 - 47)
The following four lots represent a rare opportunity to acquire exceptional examples from The Vung Tao Cargo. The cargo was on board an Asian trading vessel which had left China and was probably bound for Batavia (present day Jakarta) which had been settled by the Dutch in 1619, and became the administrative centre for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Once in Batavia, the intention was most likely for it to be transferred onto Dutch supercargoes for the homeward journey to Holland. In circa 1690, the ship ran aground off the coast of Con Dao Island, not far from Vung Tao on the southern coast of Vietnam. In 1989, a fisherman discovered the wreck on the sea bed, and the salvage of the cargo was subsequently authorised by the Vietnamese Government. The fairly precise dating was made possible by the inclusion in the cargo of coins from the Kangxi reign, as well as a Chinese ink stick with a cyclical date corresponding to 1690.
The porcelain in the Vung Tao Cargo is of particular significance and importance, setting it aside from other known shipwreck porcelain, because much of the porcelain was evidently intended for display in Dutch and other European grand houses and palaces, rather than for every-day use. The smaller pieces would have been used in architectural assemblages, while the larger examples, as in the following four lots, were used to ornament rooms and to dress imposing pieces of furniture. In addition, much of this cargo represented very early examples showing clear western inspiration both in shape and design, which was a new approach for the export trade, in some cases copying Western metal or glass prototypes which would have been sent to China on an earlier voyage. Indeed the design for the 'canal houses' may well have been taken from a Dutch engraving.
Just over half the salvaged cargo was sold in Christie's Amsterdam, 7 & 8 April 1992.
Musée des Arts Asiatiques, Toulon, France, L'Asie des Collectionneurs, 29 March - 29 September 2013.