D1919. Polychrome and Gilded Large Dish
Delft, circa 1710
Painted in iron-red, salmon, black and gold in the center with a Chinese man, his attendant standing behind him holding an umbrella. They are walking towards a female figure graciously depicted in her flowing robes with a child in her arms, probably the Goddess Guan Yin, all in a fenced garden, the cavetto and rim decorated with large panels of flowering plants and a flitting insect.
Diameter: 35.1 cm. (13.8 in.)
Delftware with a decoration painted only in iron-red and gold is extremely rare. The style is probably inspired by Chinese porcelain wares that were decorated only in iron-red, gold and sometimes with the addition of black enamel, which are traditionally called ‘Milk and Blood’ in the Netherlands. Interestingly, in the eighteenth century the name was also applied to a specific type of imported Indian chintz, with predominantly red decorations on a light ground. Apparently, this type of porcelain was popular mainly among the Dutch, and the very few pieces that can be found elsewhere in Europe usually come from the Netherlands. The composition and iconography conform to the normal export assortment of blue and white Kangxi porcelain of circa 1700. In contrast to the many Chinese porcelain wares in this color palette, Delftware objects painted in only iron-red and gold are rather unique.
The depiction of the Goddess Guan Yin, an icon of mercy and passion also holds a strong connection to the Chinese porcelain objects. Guan Yin reached the point where she could become a Buddha (enlightenment) and yet she decided to stay on Earth, remaining a “Pu Sa”. She wanted to help humankind achieve better karma, leading them to the Western Heavens to achieve serenity and joy. Because she had the ability to comfort the sick and senile, Guan Yin was broadly admired and adored. She touched their hearts and souls, creating a sense of peace and relief amongst those who were less fortunate. Guan Yin is also often worshipped by people wanting a child and is therefore also seen as the bringer of children, hence the baby she is carrying in her arms.