Overview

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A RARE CHINESE EXPORT 'PHILADELPHIA' PUNCHBOWL
A RARE CHINESE EXPORT 'PHILADELPHIA' PUNCHBOWL
A RARE CHINESE EXPORT 'PHILADELPHIA' PUNCHBOWL
A RARE CHINESE EXPORT 'PHILADELPHIA' PUNCHBOWL
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A RARE CHINESE EXPORT 'PHILADELPHIA' PUNCHBOWL

CIRCA 1815

Details
A RARE CHINESE EXPORT 'PHILADELPHIA' PUNCHBOWL
CIRCA 1815
Finely painted front and back in sepia with the Benjamin Latrobe Waterworks once at Centre Square, Philadelphia, the sides showing two views of the War of 1812 engagement between the U.S.S. Constitution ("Old Ironsides") and the HMS Guerriere, in the interior three delicately rendered grisaille fish
13 3/8 in. (34 cm.) diameter

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Becky MacGuire
Becky MacGuire

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Lot Essay

This apparently unique and unrecorded punchbowl has strong Philadelphia associations and must have been commissioned by a member of one of the leading China Trade families of that city. First, the 1799 Pump House designed by Benjamin Latrobe, often called the founder of professional architecture in America. Latrobe established his practice in Philadelphia in 1798 where he designed America's first neoclassical building for the Bank of Pennsylvania. In 1803, appointed Surveyor by his friend Thomas Jefferson, he moved to Washington DC, where he completed the US Capitol. Another source of pride for Philadelphia, as for all the nation, was the success of the USS Constitution in the War of 1812. Her August battle with HMS Guerriere earned her the "Old Ironsides" nickname; the British ship was so damaged that it was destroyed by American Capt. Isaac Hull.
The very distinctive fish decorating the interior of this bowl are exact duplicates of those on the famed Schuylkill Fishing Company bowl. Considered the oldest private club in America (and birthplace of 'fishhouse punch'), the Fishing Company commissioned their massive punchbowl in 1812 under its longtime Governor 'Capt' Samuel Morris. Charles Ross brought the bowl back on the Caledonia in 1812. He was supercargo on that voyage, his third to China, as well as a part owner of the ship. Ross also presented two Mandarin hats to the Club, where they remain; the following year he was made a member.
For illustrations and text on the Schuylkill bowl, Morris and Ross see J.G. Lee, Philadelphians and the China Trade, pp 61-62 and 68-69.

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