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Lot 346
A fine and rare famille rose 'ballooning' punch bowl Circa 1786
£20,000 - 30,000
US$ 34,000 - 50,000
Auction Details
Lot Details
The Property of a Gentleman
A fine and rare famille rose 'ballooning' punch bowl
Circa 1786
Finely painted on both sides in shades of famille rose, grisaille and gilding with thirteen figures in a balustraded hot-air balloon, about to be cut loose from its mooring point by a man brandishing a sword, with a European townscape in the background.
26.8cm (10½in) diam.


  • The design depicted on this punch bowl is a faithful reproduction of a satirical political engraving entitled 'The Aerostick Stage Balloon', signed 'Hanibal Scratch del', published by William Wells of Fleet Street, London on 23 December 1783. It was extremely topical, since the first ballooning experiments had only recently taken place in France, and the success of the first hot-air balloon had caused sufficient interest for the subject to be painted (unsatirically) on French pottery in the 1780s. It was however immensely imaginative (and typical of the very sharp British tradition of political satire) that this French novelty should immediately be made the basis of quite vicious social and political mockery. It would be fascinating to know who commissioned these exceptionally rare bowls to be painted in China, since all three elements of the unlikely Coalition which it satirises were presented in an unfavourable light.

    The print was produced as a satire on the politics in London at the time, when a coalition government of different parties had just been established. All of the characters standing on the three balustrades encircling the balloon are identifiable. The upper tier shows three 'high society' ladies, notorious at the time for their amours: Grace Elliot, Mary Robinson ('Perdita') and Lady Worsley. The central tier shows the leading political figures of the time, Lord North (a Conservative party member), Charles James Fox (a leading Radical), and the Duke of Portland, with Bruke peering around at the Pope, with the devil at the other corner. The lower level shows various notorious London celebrities of the day, Vestina, Dr Graham, Jeffrey Dunstan, Sam House and Katerfelto.

    Only one other bowl bearing this rare design, formerly in the Mottahedeh Collection, appears to have been published. Illustrated by D.Howard and J.Ayers, China for the West, Vol.I, p.246, no.241, it was later sold at Sotheby's New York, 30 January 1985, lot 149.

Saleroom notices

  • This item has been withdrawn
  1. Asaph Hyman
    Specialist - Chinese Works of Art
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
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