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Dish from a Canton famille-rose dinner service

Date: c 1856
Overall: 307 x 390 x 85 mm, 1.98 kg
Medium: Ceramic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Bowl
Object No: 00030833
Place Manufactured:Zhonghua

User Terms

    This shallow serving bowl is part of a famille-rose dinner service made for George Francis Train, a prominent merchant during the mid 19th century. The piece features scenes of Mandarin court society taking place in traditional buildings and landscapes which was a popular theme on export porcelain to America at the time.One interpretaion of the scene on this serving bowl is a possible theatre production. Although it does not appear to be a scene of "Kunqu" theatre that was exceptioanlly popular during the Qing dynasty, the male warrior figure on the right and the two figures on the barge, appear to be in costume. Of note is the females long sleeves. Known as "water sleeves" they were a particular feature and prop in Chinese theatre. The rim of the bowl is embellished with famille-rose butterflies, fruit, flowers and birds.

    SignificanceThis piece belonged to the American merchant George Francis Train who opened a shipping office in Melbourne in 1853 and 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 famille-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.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Raised shallow bowl from a Canton famille-rose dinner service made for George Francis Train in China

    Web title: Dish from a Canton famille-rose dinner service

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