Auction 104 Antiques & Works of Art, Silver & Jewellery


A 5 piece garniture


20.000 - 25.000

Session 1

14 April 2021


Chinese export porcelain
Batavia brown enamelled decoration with "Famille Rose" cartouches
Gilt Foo Dog lid pommels
Three pots with covers and two cylindrical vases
Qianlong reign, ca.1760

Height: 47 cm



Additional note

The history of the garniture is directly linked to the adoption of ceramics as central elements in interior decoration. Although ceramic vases were essential ornamental components in Renaissance Florence, it will be in the 17th century, at a time when Chinese porcelain exporting into Europe was at its peak, that their popularity will spread throughout the continent.
Founded in 1602 the Dutch East India Company was created for the purpose of regulating and protecting Holland’s trade with the East. The VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie), in its acronym, will for the next two centuries become the main supporting pillar of Dutch capitalism and imperialism, its ships carrying not just spices but a profusion of luxury goods, amongst which were highly desirable Chinese porcelains. This enterprise would soon overshadow the influential Portuguese trade, at a time when collecting and displaying exotic and rare objects was highly popular amongst European elites. Such an example was the collection of Petronella de la Court (1624-1707), wife to an important Amsterdam merchant, who owned 1800 porcelain objects that were displayed throughout her home.
The earliest porcelain “garnitures” as such, were produced in China, although the fashion for grouping and displaying vases on mantels is a European phenomenon. In fact, the only set type made for Chinese use was known as wugong and corresponded to a set of three porcelain typologies – two vases, two candlestands and a perfume burner – specifically designed for use on temple altars. It is commonly accepted that garnitures were inspired by these sacred objects but, it won’t be until 1735, when Jean Baptiste du Halde publishes his Description de l’Empire de la China, that the West becomes widely acquainted with this new typology, which had appeared for the first time in Holland in the last quarter of the 17th century.
With the importing of porcelain from China, a taste for two new typologies will eventually emerge in Europe: lidded pots and cylindrical vases, often acquired in pairs, were destined to be displayed on top of cupboards or on mantlepieces, being often moved into decorating the fire hearths during the summer months.
Grabbing hold of the market opportunity presented by this new product, VOC management will soon be commissioning considerable amounts of such sets from the Chinese potteries who were producing them specifically for exporting. In 1644 however, this flourishing trade was drastically affected by civil unrest in China. Dutch potteries, such as those at Delft, will hence take the opportunity to enter this profitable market. By the time the Chinese export production is resumed in Jingdezhen by the 1680s, their wares will adopt the decorative model that had developed in Holland over the previous period. Demand for these specific sets will continue for the most part of the 18th century and most Chinese potteries will produce such examples. The garniture fashion will extend up until the mid-19th century, when single vase use overtakes them in popularity, causing most sets to be dismantled and dispersed.
The present set of three pots with covers and two cylindrical vases, features a predominantly brown enamelled surface decoration that is interrupted by a large central scalloped leaf shaped cartouche filled by “Famille Rose” enamelled motifs of birds and flowers. Other smaller cartouches of varying shapes occur on the pieces’ surface. Decorative friezes of identical colour palette were adopted for the bodies bulge, bases and covers. This brown enamel, commonly referred to as Batavia, was particularly favoured by the Dutch in a reference to their East India Company whose headquarters were based in the city of Batavia, in the territory that today corresponds to the city of Jakarta. This denomination however, rather than reflecting the departing port of the ships that carried it to Europe, reflects instead the Dutch preference for this type of porcelain.
Notwithstanding its origins, this brown pigment was already used in the Arita region of Japan (the province of Hizen to the northwest of Kyushu island) in the 16th century, it was not until the first half of the 18th century that it became commonly used in decorating Chinese porcelain. Dutch School paintings, such as is the case of the work by Willen van Mieris (1662-1747) “A Woman and a fish pedlar” dating from 1713, depict cups and saucers of identical characteristics.
Various examples of these highly decorative pieces are recorded in museum collections worldwide. Internationally stands out the collection at the Gray Art Gallery and Museum in Hartlepool, United Kingdom. In Portugal various such examples are recorded at the Casa-Museu Medeiros e Almeida, Palácio da Ajuda, the Palácio de Queluz and the Palácio da Pena as well as at the Biscainhos Museum and at the Soares dos Reis Museum in Braga and Oporto respectively. Of these various examples, the two cylindrical vases from the Palácio da Pena collection are the most closely related to the garniture being described. Curiously, this pair of vases was lent by the Palace in February1957 to be used for the decorating of rooms and of the lunch table set in Alcobaça for the state visit of Queen Elizabeth II.

Baoping Li, “Batavian” style Chinese export porcelain: origins, recent finds and historic significance, in The Hungarian Southeast Asian Research Institute (ed.), The Ca Mau Shipwreck Porcelain [1723-1735], vol.2, Budapest, Magyar Indokína Társaság Kft, 2012, p.23-30.
J. Banham, Encyclopedia of Interior Design, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997, p. 474.
J. Yiu, “On the Origin of the Garniture de Cheminée,” in the American Ceramic Circle Journal, vol. XV, 2009, pp. 11-23.
P.F. Ferguson, Garnitures: Vase Sets from National Trust Houses, V&A Publishing, London, 2016, p. 3.

Closed Auction