Johann Bockholdt of Leyden (1510-36), also known as Jan van Leiden, belonged to a group of protestant reformers known as Anabaptists. In 1534 he and his militant group took over the town of Münster in Germany and was crowned king of the Anabaptists. This dish shows him in his royal regalia. He ruled for over a year, during which time he legalized polygamy and the burning of all books except the Bible. Once the authorities re-took control, he was tortured and executed. This scene copies an engraving by the Dutch artist Romeyen de Hooghe (1645-1708) after a painting by van Sichem. Only a few plates and dishes with this design are recorded suggesting that they may have been made as Protestant commemorative pieces celebrating the bi-centenary of Bockholdt's death in 1736.
A larger dish is in the British Museum, illustrated by Hervouët and Bruneau, La Porcelaine des Compagnies des Indes à Décor Occidental, Paris, 1986, p. 416, fig. 17.24, and also by M. Beurdeley, Porcelain of the East India Companies, London, 1962, p. 206, cat. 240. See also Hervouët and Bruneau, op.cit., p. 275, fig. 11.51 for another larger dish in the Musée Adrien Dubouché, Limoges. Another is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. These three are all approximately 35 cm. diam., making the present lot particularly unusual.