Tea bowl and saucer

DATE: ca.1734 (made)
PLACE: China (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain painted in overglaze enamels and gilded

This tea bowl and saucer are characterised as ‘eggshell’ porcelain (‘bodiless’ in Chinese) due to their thin, lightweight walls and slight translucence. Eggshell porcelain was introduced during the reign of Emperor Yongle (1360-1424) and was thought to be ‘as thin as bamboo paper’, achieved by trimming down the unfired porcelain surface with a knife. (Maryatt, 205, 1857). Both pieces are painted with an armorial design featuring two overlapping shields. Commemorating a royal marriage, the arms belong to William IV, Prince of Orange (1711-51) and to Anne of Hanover (1709-1759), Princess Royal of England and daughter of King George II, who were married in 1734. The left shield is circled by a collar of the Order of the Garter with the chivalric motto ‘Hony soit qui mal y pense’ (Shame be to him who thinks evil of it). It is likely that these pieces were commissioned through the Dutch East India Company and were made in the Jingdezhen kilns and later decorated in Holland.