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View of the town of Sydney in New South Wales

Date: c 1820
Overall: H 170 ×Dia 448 mm
Medium: Enamelled porcelain
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Peter Frelinghuysen through the American Friends of the Australian National Maritime Museum and partial purchase with the USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Punchbowl
Object No: 00039838
Place Manufactured:Zhonghua
Related Place:Sydney,

User Terms

    This Chinese export ware porcelain punchbowl features a 'View of the town of Sydney in New South Wales' and dates to the Chia Ching period. The bowl's interior is decorated with group of seven Australian Aborigines holding clubs, shield and spears. The exterior has a view of Sydney Town with a band of overlapping blue circles with gilt trim below the rim. Manufactured in China this bowl was likely a specially commissioned purchase in Australia's early trade with Asia. Chinese artist were commonly given engravings of views that they copied onto ceramic wares.
    SignificanceThis punchbowl, featuring a view of Sydney ca 1820, is one of only two punchbowls known to exist depicting a panoramic view of Sydney made around 1820. It is representative of early trade between Australia and China just over 30 years after British settlement.
    HistoryThis bowl's decorative enameling was produced by Chinese craftsmen copying from early published engravings. In the case of this bowl's exterior decoration or possibly original sketches in the case of the Indigenous people portrayed. The floral rim is very much in the Chinese tradition of 'famille rose' floral decorations.

    It bears an elaborate monogram that is all but invisible due to wear or deliberate erasure due to change of ownership. Deciphering this monogram may lead to a better understanding of where this piece of porcelain has been. The piece was likely owned by a wealthy and prominent citizen of early Sydney. At some point the bowl left Australia and disappeared until1932 when the British National Art-Collections Fund wrote to the Art Gallery of N.S.W. inquiring whether a museum in Sydney would be interested in acquiring the piece.

    It would appear that there was no interest at the time, as it was in the early 1930's that the bowl was acquired by Mr. Frelinghuysen's parents. It disappeared from view again until 1988 when it went on display in a Chinese export porcelain exhibition in Newark, New Jersey. By then Mr. Frelinghuysen had inherited his mother's porcelain collection and lent the bowl as an anonymous lender. An astute journalist, Terry Ingram, spotted the bowl and wrote about it in his saleroom column of the Australian Financial Review. It was this article that assisted the Curator in tracking down the punchbowl for display and now finally for the Australian National Maritime Collection.

    The Frelinghuysen punchbowl is a companion piece to one held by the Mitchell Library. The Mitchell Library loaned their bowl to the Museum for the Pearl River Delta exhibition and it was the first time the two had been on display together.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: View of the town of Sydney in New South Wales

    Assigned title: Punchbowl depicting a view of Sydney town

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