Chinese Export Porcelain, National Maritime Museum’s New Acquisitions
Amy Miller, National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum has recently acquired two examples of Chinese export porcelain, both from the early 18th century. The tankard is dated to c.1720, which is a key date as Capt. Harry Gough married Elizabeth Hynde in 1719 and the tankard shows the interlocked Gough and Hynde arms. Harry Gough was, latterly, an MP and Chairman of the East India Company.
The plate shows the arms of the Lee family along with views of the waterfront of Canton and London (with St Paul’s clearly visible) on the border design, which links into prints we have within the collection. The Lee family traded in Canton. The services from which the plate comes were commissioned to celebrate Eldred Lee’s marriage. Eldred’s wife Isabella was Harry Gough’s sister. The London and Canton connections obviously influenced the design of the plate. The plate is very rare and in excellent condition. In a painting from the same period (after Lee’s death in 1734) Isabella is holding a squirrel (the family crest) and a squirrel can also be seen on the plate.
Both items tell a fascinating story of the way in which families were interlinked and their connections to London. Further, when considered alongside the rest of the NMM’s collection of Chinese export porcelain, they tell a story of changing tastes and styles.
Amy Miller is Curator of Decorative Arts and Material Culture at the National Maritime Museum. She studied at the Bard Graduated Centre for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture in New York and has worked at various national Institutions including the National Museum of Ireland, the Victoria & Albert Museum and Hampton Court Palace. Selected publications include: contributor to exhibition catalogue, Elizabeth, (S. Doran, ed, London: Chatto & Windus with National Maritime Museum, 2003); 'Egyptomania: The Impact of Nelson, Napoleon and the Nile on Material Culture in France and Britain', Nelson & Napoléon exhibition catalogue (M. Lincoln, ed, London: National Maritime Museum, 2005); Dressed to Kill: British Naval Uniform, Masculinity and Contemporary Fashions, 1748-1857, (London: National Maritime Museum, 2007.); “The Navy at Home: nautical styles in fashion and interiors in Britain, 1793-1815”, Studies in the Decorative Arts, Autumn/Winter 2009.