Chinese Compagnies des Indes porcelain plate representing the “The Judgement of Paris”. Outer rim ornated with interlacings and underglaze pink shells.
China, Qianlong Period (1735-1795)
Diameter: 23 cm (9 in.)
One crack on outer rim and one small restored chip on back. Few enamel flakings.
At Peleus and Thetis’s wedding on Mount Olympus, all the gods were invited except Eris, Goddess of Discord. In revenge, she threw a golden apple into the crowd with the words: “To the most beautiful”. Three goddesses then tried to claim the fruit, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite.
To put an end to the dispute, Zeus ordered Hermes to take the goddesses to Mount Ida and let Paris choose the winner. The young man finally gives the prize to Aphrodite, who promised him the love of Helen, while Athena offered him victory in war, and Hera with sovereignty over all men.
Some time later, Paris embarks to Greece to retrieve Aphrodite’s promised gift of Helen thus causing the beginning of the Trojan War.
Paris is shown here on the left and sitting on a rock. Mount Ida is behind and painted in underglaze blue. He is shown with his shepherd attributes of dog at his feet and a stick in his right hand.
He holds in his left hand the apple of discord that he is about to offer Aphrodite.The latter is accompanied with Athena on the left clothed in warrior attributes (spear, helmet and muscular back), and to the right is Hera with a peacock at her feet.
A small child sits by Athena’s feet. It is perhaps an allusion to Paris’s destiny for an omen was announced before his birth that he would cause the destruction of Troy. It could also be Cupid for he is holding a part of Aphrodite’s scarf.
The artist-painter that realized this decoration was inspired by an engraving by Marc Antonio Raimondi which represented a lost work by Raphael. The latter was notably used by painters for Italian Renaissance majolique (consult the Urbino platter in the collection of the Museum of Angers, France).
The overall decoration is painted with a rich polychrome palette of pink, purple, green and brown camaïeux and grey monochrome for the hair.
A comparable plate with gilt interlacings on outer rim, from the former Luneau collection in Nantes, France is illustrated in "La Porcelaine de la Compagnie des Indes" (Francois and Nicole Hervouët), Flammarion, 1986, p. 310.
Abridged bibliography :
Beurdeley, 1962, cats. 130-131
Brawer, 1992, no. 112
Fennimore, 2000, no. 41
Godden, 1979, pl. 144
Gordon, 1975, p. 20, fig. 5
Howard and Ayers, 1978, vol. I, no 324
Hyde, 1936, pl. XIV, fig. 43
Jorg, 1989, nos. 60-61
Litzenburg, 2003, cat. 192 (Reeves Center collection, Washington)
Poole 1995, cat. 403, pl. 44
Scheurleer 1974, pls. 225-226
Veiga, 1989, pls. 81-84
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