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    Sale 2130

    Chinese Export Porcelain

    21 January 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 141


    CIRCA 1785

    Price Realised  


    CIRCA 1785
    In the center of each piece an armorial device displaying a pair of upraised hands, palms out, in the position of the Judaic Priestly Blessing, above them is a gilt finial or lamp suspending what may be the necklace of an order, all against purple and ermine mantling and within an inner interlaced border and a main border of flowering vine suspending ribbon-tied bellflower garlands, the rims with gilt and iron-red egg-and-dart, comprising:
    Two soup tureens, covers and stands, 14½ in. (36.8 cm.) wide
    Two soup tureens and covers, 13½ in. (34.2 cm.) wide
    Two square bowls, 10 in. (25.4 cm.) wide
    Six reticulated saucer dishes, 9½ in. (24 cm.) diameter
    Two sauce-boats, 7½ in. (19 cm.) long
    Two leaf-shaped stands, 7¾ in. (19.6 cm.) long
    An open vegetable dish, 16 in. (40.6 cm.) wide
    An open vegetable dish, 14 3/8 in. (36.5 cm.) wide
    Two open vegetable dishes, 12½ in. (31.7 cm.) wide
    Four large octagonal platters, 17 3/8 in. (44.2 cm.) wide
    Four octagonal platters, 16 3/8 in. (41.6 cm.) wide
    Three octagonal platters, 14½ in. (36.8 cm.) wide
    Four octagonal platters, 12 3/8 in. (31.4 cm.) wide
    Four octagonal platters, 11¼ in. (28.6 cm.) wide
    Three small octagonal platters, 10 1/8 in. (25.7 cm.) wide
    A stand or small platter, 8¼ in. (20.9 cm.) wide
    Twenty-eight soup plates, 9 5/8 in. (24.4 cm.) diameter
    Seventy-four dinner plates, 9¼ in. (23.4 cm.) diameter
    Twenty-three side plates, 7¾ in. (19.8 cm.) diameter
    Two salts
    Six pots-de-creme and covers
    Six teabowls
    Eight saucers (202)

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    The Lord bless you and keep you
    The Lord let his face shine upon you
    and be gracious to you
    The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace.

    These are the words of the Priestly Blessing (in Hebrew, birkat kohanim), also known as Aaronic or Cohenic Blessing. One of the oldest and best-known Judaic rituals, the blessing or benediction was part of the temple services, when every morning and evening at the Tamid offering the priest would ascend a special platform and pronounce the words with hands lifted. After the destruction of the Temple and the cessation of the sacrificial services, the Blessing became part of the public synagogue service, in which it is pronounced by adult males of priestly descent. The positioning of the hands in the Priestly Blessing is intended to form two "Vs", signifying shin, the initial in Hebrew for the word meaning the light or presence of God.

    From Numbers 6: 24-26, the words of the Blessing are also a familiar part of Christian ritual. In 1661 the Blessing was officially adopted by the Church of England for the unction service; it is widely used today in both Protestant services and the Catholic liturgy.

    The prosperity and relative tolerance of 18th century Holland attracted a large Jewish community. Wealthy merchants and traders fled the Iberian peninsula for Amsterdam, where the great Portuguese Synagogue opened in 1675. By 1795 the Jewish community is estimated to have exceeded 20,000. Though restricted from full participation in Dutch life, Jews were members of guilds including the brokers' and printers', and Jews were physicians. In Portugal and Spain the severity of the Inquisition began to wane towards the end of the 18th century, and Jewish families began to return. The first synagogue in Lisbon was established in 1813. Very likely a wealthy Dutch or Portuguese Jewish family, perhaps active in the sugar and tobacco trade with Brazil or the cotton and diamond trade with India, commissioned this service.

    Related individual pieces are found in the Stieglitz Collection (see B. Chaya, The Stieglitz Collection of Masterpieces of Jewish Art, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1987, p. 354) and the collection of the Jewish Museum of London (see R.D. Barnett, ed., Catalogue, London, 1974, p. 138.)

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that the 23 side plates were omitted from the printed catalogue entry, for a total of 202 pieces in the service. The online entry is correct.