This ewer and basin was acquired by the Honble. John Spencer from Elizabeth Chenevix, January 28 1741/2 'A China ewer 1.11.6. Febry 3 A Large China Scalop'd Shell Bason 2.12.6' (MSS, British Library, Add. 78026, Althorp Papers).
There is a long tradition of nautilus shell and scallop shell shapes in European (especially southern) metalwork. Chinese export porcelain models of the present kind were fashionable in the first quarter of the 18th century, at the height of the Chinese Imari era, and continued to be requested as fashion turned to floral famille rose in the second quarter of the century, when they were more commonly made in painted enamel.
A similar ewer and basin was in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Rafi Y. Mottahedeh, illustrated by Howard and Ayers, China for the West, London and New York, 1978, vol. I, no. 125, p. 144. Another, from the Collection of Benjamin F. Edwards III was sold at Christie's New York, 22 January 2002, lot 81.