Dish (or stand)

English, Chelsea
Made at Chelsea Manufactory (England, active 1745-1769)

Object Place: Europe, England


3.6 x 24 cm (1 7/16 x 9 7/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Soft-paste porcelain decorated in polychrome enamels

On View

Charles C. Cunningham Gallery (Gallery 247)





The lozenge-shaped dish was pressed over a mold, producing shells in relief at each end, from which shell-form flutes fan in either direction. The scalloped rim was finished by hand. The presence of tin oxide in the glaze has softened the detail of the relief but has also given a smooth, viscous ground for the enamel decoration. This takes the form of a botanical still-life painting filling the cavetto of the dish. Three fruits and a butterfly are clearly taken directly from a print (or prints) and, with their cast shadows, appear to have been placed on the dish. In this trompe l’oeil painting the three-dimensional form of the fruits and leaves is achieved by a combination of the building up of the enamel colors, the white highlights effected by removing flecks of the color, and the fine hatching in black, as in a print. The scattered flowers, florets, and an insect seem to be by another painter; these appear to be randomly placed but in fact are masking flaws in the glaze.
On the underside a small oval area toward one end is free of glaze, marking the place where the medallion with the raised anchor had been attached. It apparently was lost (fled) during the glaze firing or even during the enamel firing. Examined by transmitted light, the paste, typically, has many “moons” of various sizes. There are traces of two (or perhaps three) patch marks on the unglazed base, indicating that the piece was supported by pads of clay rather than stilts during the glaze bring.


(1) on underside: "flown" raised anchor


New York; By 1955, Rita and Frits Markus; 1983, gift of Rita and Frits Markus to the MFA.

Credit Line

Gift of Rita and Frits Markus