PERIOD: 18th century
A CHINESE EXPORT BOTANICAL PLATE CIRCA 1740 A slightly smaller but similarly decorated plate from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Rafi Y. Mottahedeh, sold in these rooms on October 19, 2000, lot 228, is illustrated by Howard and Ayers, Vol. I, p. 304, no. 298, who mention on p. 305 that "the central picture is in the style of the Swiss-Dutch botanist Maria Sybille Merian (1646-1717), [whose Swiss father was an engraver, and] who in 1698 traveled from Holland to the Dutch West Indies, where she collected specimens and made drawings for a book, first published in Holland in 1705 as Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, and in France in 1771 as Histoire Générale des Insectes de Surinam et de toute l'Europe.... This is the only known use of her work [on Chinese Export porcelain], and the rarity of the design suggests that perhaps only a small service of plates was ordered, possibly because of the extreme difficulty of the subject." This theory is countered, however, by Jörg 1997, p. 287, no. 334, who illustrates a saucer dish with this decoration and asserts that "no matching print has been found in [Merian's] publications. Moreover, two different flowers are shown on the porcelains, whereas Merian usually illustrated only one species at a time. It is therefore likely that some other European flower print would have been the source for the porcelain painter" of this pattern. The complicated botanical decoration and the sophisticated borders suggest that the whole design might have been executed by Cornelis Pronk, into whose chronology and imaginative style the concept of this design fits instinctively. And, as Howard and Ayers point out, this 'iris' pattern, like Pronk's other known patterns, is found in both famille-rose and underglaze-blue versions, for which, see the following lot. A slightly smaller plate in this pattern is illustrated by Krahl and Harrison-Hall, p. 187, no. 80 (left), along with a blue and white version (right). Plates of the same size as the present example are illustrated by Howard 1994, p. 78, no. 60; and Le Corbeiller 1973, p. 48, no. 33; and a pair was in the collection of Dr. Anton C. R. Dreesmann, sold at Christie's in London on April 10, 2002, lot 416.