N° 77
Jug with royal arms of France

China
Jiangxi, Jingdezhen
Qing dynasty, Kangxi period
Porcelain, cobalt blue underglaze and overglaze enamel
H: 20.8 cm
Paris, National Museum of Asian Arts - Guimet
(G 5010)

This ribbed ewer, a copy of a silver model, is painted in Imari style enamels.

    A stylised red and gold spearhead band encircles the upper portion of the base.
    An iron red and gold lotus-scroll band reserved with four enamel-blue-edged panels of stylised floral and foliate scrolls ornaments the belly.
    An iron red and gold trellis diaper band runs around the mouth.
    A basket containing a fruit hangs from two branches of flowering lotus that flank the armorial, above which is the royal crown.
    Beneath the handle, a painted pomegranate branch lies between two lotus stems.
    The royal arms are those of Louis XV: an ecu with a fleur-de-lis on a blue underglaze ground beneath a crown and encircled by the chains of the orders of the Holy Ghost and of Saint Michael.

Succeeding his great grandfather Louis XIV, Louis XV ascended to the French throne in 1715, under the regency of Philippe d'Orléans.

This jug is part of a complete royal ,service which included pieces as diverse as tripod bowls, ice pails, small shell-shaped tureens, spice canisters, candlesticks, and even knife handles.

Chinese porcelains appear in the French Royal Inventories with the "curiosity cabinets" of François I and Henry ll at Fontainebleau. Thousands of pieces are listed in the general inventory of the Crown Furnishings in the early 18th century.

At this period, only the court and noble families of Brittany having trade contacts with China possessed armorial services with Chinese decoration.

These fine porcelains were prized as worthy companions to silver tableware. The Imari style must have won the court's favour, since this service was specially commissioned, like that of Regent Philippe d'Orléans, painted "dans le goût du Japon," of which one surviving large, conical vase with floral decoration and blazon is conserved at the Louvre.

The glistening, golden colours of these porcelains blended easily with French interiors and their varnished wood furnishings decorated with mouldings and worked, gilt bronze handles.

Monique Crick