University Collections of Art and History

Object Record

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Catalog Number 2015.20.1
Object Name Plate
Description Circular plate with a flat bottom, painted in blue with a stylized Chinese scene with a figure seated in a landscape in the center of the well and four vignettes of a seated Chinese figure arranged around the rim. Above the seated figure are the initials W I M and the date 1683.

This design is known as the Chinese scholar pattern, and is based on the decoration found on seventeenth-century Chinese porcelain.

The Chinese scholar pattern is an early example of chinoiserie, which is a European interpretation of Chinese designs, and is one of the earliest examples of the use of asymmetrical design to appear on English ceramics. With its asymmetrical central scene of a vaguely Chinese figure in a landscape and symmetrical repetition of motifs on the rim, it has been described as a "hybrid pattern whose mixture of exotic novelty and subdued familiarity gained great popularity among seventeenth-century English consumers just becoming conscious of Asian aesthetics."

The initials WIM are almost certianly those of the original owners of the plate, which would have been part of a set. "W" is the first letter of the last name, with "I" and "M" being the first letters of the hunsband's and wife's first names.
Date 1683
Material Tin-glazed earthenware
Place of Origin Made in London, England
Collection The Reeves Center
On View Reeves Center, European Ceramics Gallery