Even as a bachelor, George Washington acquired choice furnishings which bespoke his gentility and position in Virginia society. In 1757, Washington received from London a "Compleat sett Fine Image China," which included this sugar bowl. Washington drew on credit earned from his tobacco shipments to England to purchase commodities from elsewhere in the British Empire, including tea, Chinese porcelain, and sugar. By the mid-eighteenth century, the British considered sugar an indispensable accompaniment to their tea. Served in this fashionably decorated bowl, it completed the assemblage of luxury goods that asserted Washington's position as a member of the Virginia gentry.


Circular, thrown bowl with two shell handles and straight sides rounded at bottom on a high, circular foot; low domed cover with flattened ball finial; bowl decorated on two sides with overglaze polychrome enamel (famille rose) vignettes; on one side a Chinese man and woman stand in a garden near a building; in the continuation of the scene in the other reserve, one child lays on the ground while another stands next to a woman seated on a bench and holding a pink fan, with a lake in the background; both vignettes are framed by underglaze blue flowers and scrollwork; the sides of the bowl below the handles are decorated with additional reserves with lakeside scenes in overglaze red enamel framed by underglaze blue flowers and scrollwork; shell handles picked out in underglaze blue enamel; cover is decorated with two reserves in overglaze polychrome enamels featuring a bird amid brush and rocks, framed by underglaze blue flowers and scrollwork; rims and ground between scrollwork picked out in gilt; interior undecorated.


c. 1755



Porcelain (hard-paste), enamel, gilt


Overall: 4 5/8 in. x 2 7/16 in. (11.76 cm x 6.2 cm)

Credit Line

Bequest of Margaret B. Smith, to the memory of Henrietta Elizabeth Smith, Grandniece of Martha Washington, Daughter of Commodore John Dandridge Henley, and Wife of J. Bayard H. Smith, Esq., 1910

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
Buy Tickets What to Do Calendar Shop Restaurant Support Membership
Estate Hours

9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

iconDirections & Parking
buy tickets online & save