Nanking Cargo Treasure

Recently Julie has been showcasing some popular China Ware - especially the Willow Pattern.

One of our UK subscribers has shared her much treasured and very special plate which spent 234 years of its life underwater.

Plate from the Nanking Cargo

This plate was part of the collection now known as the Nanking Cargo named after the type of porcelain in the Dutch East India Company ship "Geldermalsen", which sank near Java in 1751 and was salvaged in 1985. The cargo was salvaged by a team led by Captain Mike Hatcher and included over 150,000 pieces of blue and white porcelain, 125 rare Chinese gold ingots and two important cannons. The cargo was sold by Christie's in Amsterdam, comprising 2,800 lots spread over 5 days in April - May 1986, realising over $US20 million.1.

We can learn a little more about our subscriber's plate as both the National Museum Australia and the British Museum own a similar plate as shown below.

It is believed that the plates were most probably made in Jingdezhen in southern China in 1751 in the Qing Dynasty period.

The one on the left above is decorated with what is known as ‘boatman pattern’. Such Chinese blue and white decorations inspired the ‘willow pattern’ — a British design popular from the late 1700s. Around this time, Britain’s ceramics began to challenge China’s domination of the local market.2

The plate in the British Museum is described as being decorated with pavilions and riverscape. Made of blue underglaze and enamelled and gold glazed porcelain.3

If we look closely at our subscriber's plate the scene is very similar to the two museum pieces though I don't think it depicts a river scene. The design in the top right appears to include two doves as mentioned by Julie in her post.

On Monday January 3, 1752, the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) ship Geldermalsen, struck a reef on her return journey to the Netherlands and sank in the South China Sea. Of the crew 32 survived and 80 went down with the ship and her cargo of tea, raw silk, textiles, dried wares, groceries, lacquer and porcelain.

The cargo of Chinese porcelain was originally potted in Jingdezhen, Jiangzi province then shipped to Nanking for delivery to the VOC vessel Geldermalsen for final transportation to the Netherlands...The cargo was recovered by Captain Michael Hatcher and his team in 1985 and sold by Christie's Amsterdam on 28 April - 2 May 1985 as 'The Nanking Cargo. Chinese Export Porcelain and Gold' two hundred and thirty-five years later. (Jörg 1986/1. pp.39-59).

An interesting detail is that Captain Michael Hatcher found the wreck of the Geldermalsen on the same reef as he earlier, in 1983, found the wreck of a Chinese junk. Both wrecks were about a mile apart. This Chinese Junk wreck came to be known as "The Hatcher Junk" she had a cargo of Kraak and Transitional porcelain objects that were dated c.1643. (Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, p.27) 4

Follow the bookmark link below to read Julie's post on the Willow Pattern.

The ever popular Willow pattern
Most of us have probably seen it or may even own a piece or two, or at least our mothers, aunts, grandmothers did. The Willow Pattern was popularised in the late C18th - C19th. But do you know the story of the legend behind it? Image:

And a very special welcome to G.W. from Hawthorn, Victoria and A.M. from Gosford in New South Wales who have just joined up as the AnArt4Life's latest subscribers.

We also want to send our deepest sympathy and very special thoughts to everyone affected by the floods in New South Wales. Our hearts go out to you at this dreadful time and add our thanks to the wonderful people from all the Emergency Services who are doing so much to confront this catastrophic situation.