From our Chinese Blue and White Collection, an extremely well-painted pair of Qianlong Period (1736-1795), "soft paste" porcelain dishes, depicting what is probably a tea merchant's house on the bank of the Pearl River in Canton, including the typical "river scene" elements of bridges, water, land masses, and distant mountains, all executed in an especially vibrant blue, with an ornate border richly decorated in a combination of butterflies, ruyi head, and cash diaper motifs.
The design of these dishes has actually been the subject of academic debate since shards of this pattern were first discovered at the Spode factory in the early 1970's, and as such, this pattern has been alternatively labeled the "Batavia Hut Pattern," the "Pearl River House Pattern," and the "Newhall Pattern." To be honest, for us, some of this esoterica surrounding whether this is a Chinese house rendered in Western style, or a Chinese rendition of a Western style house, somewhat escapes us...We think that the interpretation of this being a tea merchant's house on the bank of the Pearl River is reasonable enough to appreciate the scene, but more can be read about this in Robert Copeland's Spode's Willow Pattern and Other Designs After the Chinese."
Size and condition: Each dish is 9 1/2 inches in diameter, 1 1/2 inches deep. As with most "soft paste" porcelain, there is the usual give and take between the superb quality of the painting due to the way the pure white soft paste porcelain absorbs the cobalt, and the fragility of these pieces compared to their "hard paste" counterparts. As such, each dish does have some conditions issues, but we don't see them as major detriments. One dish has a small rim chip that extends into a hairline from the rim edge to the center of the dish, yet the dish still rings well. The other dish has 2-3 small rim chips, one appears to be filled, with one of these chips giving rise to a short hairline that extends 2-3 inches into the rim of the dish but is almost imperceptible from the front. This dish still rings well too. A beautiful pair.