Chestnut baskets in Chinese export porcelain appear to have been particularly popular in America. The form is probably taken from English creamware patterns and was most likely ordered as a part of a dessert service. See Peter Walton, Creamware and other English Potttery at Temple Newsam House, Leeds, 1976, nos.387-392 for bowls and covers of similar form, made in Staffordshire in circa 1780-90; interestingly the English creamware chestnut baskets and covers of a decade earlier are more of tureen shape with pierced covers, ibid., nos. 534-544.
Various Chinese chestnut baskets and covers have been published, but the examples in the present lot are amongst the most elaborately enamelled. Plainer versions are illustrated by D. Howard and J. Ayers, China for the West, 1978, vol.II, no.585, p.565 for a single basket from the Mottahedeh Collection; another in the Hodroff Collection is illustrated by David S. Howard, The Choice of the Private Trader, 1994, no.146, p.138. Armorial versions exist as well: an example with the Dutch arms of the van Idsinga family, formerly in the Collection of Nelson Rockefeller, was included by The Chinese Porcelain Company in their exhibition Chinese Glass, Painting and Export Porcelain, 8 October - 9 November 1996, no.89; and an armorial basket and cover from the Helena Woolworth McCann Collection is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated by J. G. Phillips, China Trade Porcelain, 1960, pl.50, p.129. For a Fitzhugh-pattern example, see Geoffrey A. Godden, Oriental Export Market Porcelain, 1979, fig.212, p.292.