Chinese hand-painted blue and white porcelain in standard patterns, such as landscape and river scenes, offered Westerners a romanticized glimpse of the exotic East and were prized for their durability and artistry. This custard cup and lid is part of an extensive dinner service which once belonged to Elizabeth Willing Powel, wife of Philadelphia mayor Samuel Powel who died in 1793, and a close friend of George and Martha Washington. Powel family descendants recorded that George Washington dined off this porcelain, perhaps while attending one of the dinners or salons for which the intelligent, witty Mrs. Powel was known.
Low-domed, circular lid with a gilded berry-and-leaf knop, a wide, flaring flange, and a shallow foot ring. The lid features underglaze cobalt blue and overglaze gilded decoration. A landscape with a house on a rocky, wooded island is on one side of the dome, and two groups of three rocks appear opposite. The lip of the lid has a trellis-diaper border with spearheads and double dots. Single gilded lines outline the outside edge and the space between the trellis and spearhead sections of the border.
Baluster-shaped cup with a reeded, double-intertwined strap handle with flower-and-leaf terminals and a shallow foot ring. The cup features underglaze cobalt blue and overglaze gilded decoration. Around the exterior of the body is a right-anchored landscape with a large pavilion and walled garden complex enclosing a banana tree near the handle. Two clumps of pine trees incline toward one another on two points of land in the background near the rim opposite the handles. In the foreground below is a single figure holding a parasol on a bridge; a sampan or single-oared, flat-bottomed boat is in the river to the left. The handle straps are each decorated with an elongated, budding branch in blue and gilded chains of husks; the terminals are decorated in blue and gilt. A single gilded line outlines the rim exterior and foot of the cup.
Pattern Names: Inclined Pines, Nanking.
Porcelain (hard-paste), gilt
Overall (H x W x D): 3 1/8 in. x 3 5/16 in. x 2 11/16 in. (7.94 cm x 8.41 cm x 6.83 cm)
Gift of Thomas I. H. Powel, 1978
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