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Saucer

ca. 1745
Origin: China, Jingdezhen
D: 4 9/16"; OH: 1"
Porcelain, hard-paste
Gift of Beatrix T. Rumford
Acc. No. 2009-197
Chinese porcelain saucer decorated in ink color with gilding. The central scene of Venus and Cupid depicts Venus holding a flaming heart in her right hand while Cupid, on her left, grasps an arrow. She is surrounded by flowing robes and clouds or perhaps the waves of her birth. A complex star diaper, scroll, and twist border with reserves fills the marley. The reserves depict the sleeping Telemachus.
Label:Prints were often sent to China as design sources for porcelain painters. Supercargoes supplied popular images, such as this mythological scene of Venus and Cupid, which Chinese painters copied with black enamel, often recreating by hand the crosshatching and detail. Popularized in the late 1720s, the use of black enamels was most common in the mid-18th century. Shipping manifests sometimes referred to porcelain decorated this way as “penciled ware.”

The popularity of mythological scenes coincided with a mid-18th-century European fascination with ancient Greece and Rome. Archaeologists have recovered objects decorated in similar ways from colonial sites in the South, including Williamsburg. References to "pencil'd China" are prevalent as early as 1741 in records throughout the colonies. This saucer had a matching cup when Elizabeth Clifford Morris Canby recorded it in her china inventory during the 19th century.

This Chinese export porcelain saucer is decorated in ink color enamel and gilding and depicts Venus and Cupid at center, surrounded by a baroque scrolling border interrupted by scenes from the story of the sleeping Telemachus wherein Minerva protects Telemachus from the pair.
Provenance:Miss Beatrix T. Rumford, 88 Sycamore Lane, Lexington, VA 24450