Arbor Pattern Pitcher

Attributed to

Cornelis Pronk ( Dutch, 1691 - 1759 )

c. 1738–1740
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General Description

Because of its strong Western composition and coloring, the so-called Arbor pattern has been attributed to Cornelis Pronk even though no specific drawings survive for it, unlike The Parasol Ladies pattern (see 1985.R.1077.1). However, there exists a watercolor by Pronk of a tea pavilion in a Haarlem park dating from around 1730, and it is possible that the artist adapted this earlier effort for the porcelain. This design was apparently the fourth made especially for the Dutch East India Company. It was finished in 1737 and delivered to China two years later.

This example was originally part of a dinner service. In 1740, six sets consisting of 371 pieces were sent to the Netherlands. Three services were in underglaze blue, and the others were enameled, as here.

The pitcher depicts two Sino-European ladies under a yew hedge arbor with four children about and three ducks swimming in the foreground. The palette of the wide chain motif and topiary arbor is a lush green. The finely painted shells or plumes at the top of the pitcher are reminiscent of a few surviving pieces of tea services probably from Pronk's studio that feature large single plumes in translucent purple enamel. The appearance of the ladies is quite similar to those in the Parasol plates, though these are executed with greater finesse. The shape of the cartouches seen at the top is most un-Chinese, and the pitcher form itself may derive from European prototypes in silver or earthenware. Similar pitchers have been found mounted with European silver or pewter hinged lids; this one, and another in the Reves collection (see 1985.R.913), however, never had lids.

Adapted from

  • Dallas Museum of Art, Decorative Arts Highlights from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1995), 103.

  • Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1985), 195.

  • Label text, Reves Galleries, Porcelain Gallery, 2018

Web Resources

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