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Oval platter from a Canton famille-rose dinner service made for George Francis Train in China

Date: c 1856
Overall: 218 x 293 x 35 mm, 0.64 kg
Medium: Ceramic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Platter
Object No: 00030823
Place Manufactured:Zhonghua

User Terms

    This oval serving dish is part of a Canton famille-rose dinner service made for George Francis Train, a prominent merchant during the mid-19th century. It is possible the scene depicted on this piece is a reference to self-discipline. It appears that the centre figure is drunk and is now having to be supported by two young males. Overlooking the unfolding drama is a large banana tree which is a visual reference to self-discipline in Chinese art.
    SignificanceGeorge Francis Train was an American who opened a shipping office in Melbourne in 1853. He returned to New York via China in 1856.
    HistoryIn the early years following the American Revolution there was a demand for Chinese trade to supply manufactured products such as porcelain, silk and tea, which were not yet available in America. This meant that by the 1830s trade routes from America to China were well established. As a result many wealthy families and merchants of the time possessed numerous Chinese manufacture items in their homes.

    George Francis Train was born in Boston in 1829 and became famous for his entrepreneurial achievements, merchant adventuring and wealth. After a stint as a grocery clerk, Train began his career in shipping in 1845 when he joined his Uncle's Clipper Shipping Business. He established his own shipping firm in Melbourne, Australia in 1853. Throughout his mercantile career, he circumnavigated the globe four times. In 1856 he spent a year in China and it is thought that he ordered this Famill-rose dinner service set during this time. Upon his return to America he invested in steel railways and railroads, formed a Finance Company and built various properties ensuring the growth of his fortune.

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