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A chinese blue and white 'Marie Sybille Merian' plate
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A chinese blue and white 'Marie Sybille Merian' plate


A chinese blue and white 'Marie Sybille Merian' plate
18th Century
Painted in underglaze blue with a central cluster of an iris, and peony, a butterfly and two caterpillars below an intertwined floral and foliate scrollwork border and a narrow blue ground band in the well
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Lot Essay

Chinese porcelain decorated with this design was almost certainly made for the Dutch market and can be found decorated in both underglaze blue and gilt, and in famille rose enamels. The design is similar to the version with a caterpillar and butterfly which has probably been taken from a botanical drawing in the style of the Dutch-Swiss botanist, Marie Sybille Merian (1646-1717), who travelled extensively to the Dutch West Indies and who made drawings for a book first published in Holland in 1705, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, and in France in 1771 as Histoire Générale des Insectes de Surinam et de toute d'Europe. It has also been suggested that the border design, and indeed the flowers, are related to designs by Cornelis Pronk, a Dutch draughtsman working for the Dutch East India Company during this period. For an enamelled example, see C.J.A. Jörg, Chinese Ceramics in the Collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1997, no. 334, p. 287; and in Howard & Ayers, China for the West, vol I, pp. 304-5 (also illustrating a vase of very similar design); and in the Hodroff Collection, The Choice of the Private Trader, D.S. Howard, 1994, no. 60.


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