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A pair of Chinese blue and white 'Maria Sybilla Merian' plates
A pair of Chinese blue and white 'Maria Sybilla Merian' plates

18TH CENTURY

Details
A pair of Chinese blue and white 'Maria Sybilla Merian' plates
18th Century
Painted in underglaze blue and heightened with traces of gilt, with a central cluster of an iris and a peony, a butterfly and two caterpillars below an intertwined floral and foliate scrollwork border and a narrow blue ground band in the well
25.6 cm. diam. (2)

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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 was probably taken from a botanical drawing in the style of the Dutch-Swiss botanist, Maria Sybilla Merian (1646-1717), who travelled extensively to the Dutch West Indies and made drawings for a book, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, first published in Holland in 1705, then in France in 1771 as Histoire Génerale 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; in Howard & Ayers, China for the West, vol I, pp. 304-5; and in the Hodroff Collection, The Choice of the Private Trader, D.S. Howard, 1994, no. 60.

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