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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 plate 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.


Circular plate with a plain, concave rim and an integral foot ring decorated in underglaze cobalt blue and overglaze gilt. Centered in the well is a right-anchored landscape with two birds in flight above a river flowing between two points of wooded land with buildings. A single-masted ship appears at left. The sides of the well feature a cell-diaper pattern, while the rim has a trellis-diaper border with spearheads and double dots. The edge of the rim retains traces of gilt.

Pattern Names: Two Birds, Nanking.





Porcelain (hard-paste), gilt


Overall (H x W x D): 15/16 in. x 7 5/8 in. x 7 5/8 in. (2.38 cm x 19.37 cm x 19.37 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Thomas I. H. Powel, 1980

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.
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