Wall Fountain

c. 1700–1730
Porcelain, enamel
Fountain: 16 1/2 × 8 3/8 × 6 3/8 in. (41.91 × 21.27 × 16.19 cm) Lid: 3 1/2 × 5 × 3 in. (8.89 × 12.7 × 7.62 cm) Velvet stand: 19 5/8 × 11 1/8 × 9 5/8 in. (49.85 × 28.26 × 24.45 cm)
Decorative Arts and Design
Wendy and Emery Reves Collection - Entry, Level 3
Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art

General Description

During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, ribbed wall fountains with matching domed covers such as this, along with their accompanying oval basins, were made and decorated by the hundreds at Jingdezhen (Ching-tê Chên), China. They were a popular item of everyday use among the wealthy in Europe, who washed their hands in them before meals. Most of the basins have not survived.

The depiction of sea life on this famille verte example, has naturalistically portrayed fish and crabs in iron-red and purple, probably a derivation of traditional Chinese animal designs. Chinese legend is the inspiration for the confronted fish at the top that have been transformed into dragons. The scallop shell's stripes are similar to those on a pair of Reves kendi-form bottles (see 1985.R.914 and 1985.R.915). A metal spigot protrudes from the mouth of a monster mask that is flanked by a wide trellis-pattern border which has shrimp in the reserves. Other fountains with this type of fluted body also exist that depict decorative schemes featuring birds and flowers (see 1985.R.844.A-B).

Since the wall fountain is not a traditional Chinese form, a model must have been sent from Europe for copying. Once the Asian versions were exported to Europe, they in turn inspired copies in tin-glazed earthenware manufactured at factories in cities such as Strasbourg, France.

Adapted from

  • Dallas Museum of Art, Decorative Arts Highlights from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1995), 97.

  • Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1985), 190.

Web Resources

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Read more about Chinese Export Porcelain