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37

IMPORTANT CHINESE EXPORT "LADY WASHINGTON STATES CHINA" PLATE, ca. 1796
diameter: 9 3/8 in.

Provenance: The Estate of a Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts Gentleman.

Other Notes: This plate is a rare example from Martha Washington's porcelain tea service of approximatley 40 pieces, presented to her in April 1796 by the Dutch trader Andreas van Braam Houckgeest, who brought the service from Canton to Philadelphia in a box labeled "for Lady Washington." Designed for Mrs. Washington by van Braam himself, the service celebrated the nascent United States of America through the decorative motif repeated on each piece: a serpent swallowing its tail (symbolizing eternity), a Latin motto derived from Vergil's Aeneid (roughly translated "[Our Union is our] Glory and [our] Defense against [Him]"), a linked chain encompassing the names of the fifteen states in the union (symbolizing strength and unity), and Martha Wasihngton's monogram surrounded by a laurel wreath (symbolizing victory) atop a golden sunburst. Today, fewer than twenty pieces of the service remain. The majority of known examples are in public collections, while shards of the service have been found during excavations at Mount Vernon.


  • Condition: overall very good condition; one small rim chip and some rubbing to the enamels, especially gilding on rim;


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