An important 'Admiral Vernon' bowl circa 1740-41

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Lot 51
An important 'Admiral Vernon' bowl circa 1740-41

Sold for £ 2,390 (US$ 2,966) inc. premium
An important 'Admiral Vernon' bowl
circa 1740-41
the exterior with original Chinese landscape decoration in underglaze blue, painted with a central portrait of Admiral Vernon, standing three-quarter length and holding a baton, his coat in blue enamel and with an opaque white cravat, two three-masted ships and a small rowing boat behind, within a circular 'porthole' frame surrounded by ensigns and naval insignia, the exterior with a further three-masted ship and various bowing chinamen, 11.3cm (fine crack and rim fritting),

Footnotes

  • Research by Errol Manners and Roger Quarm at the National Maritime Museum has identified the portrait as Admiral Edward Vernon, the hero of Portobello. Vernon was a naval commander as well as a politician. During the so-called 'War of Jenkins Ear' Vernon was sent to the Caribbean to take on the Spaniards. Using the tactic of surprise, he captured the Spanish fortress at Portobello with a force of just six ships, on 22 November 1739. When news of the capture reached Britain, Admiral Vernon became a popular hero. Vernon's birthday in 1740 was celebrated with public illuminations in London, and his victory was commemorated in delftware and saltglaze. Vernon lacked the necessary command skills to direct a much larger fleet, however, and in 1741 his attempts to repeat his success by attacking the Spanish fortress in Cartagena were abandoned. Following further disasters in Cuba, Vernon was blamed for the very heavy British casualties and he returned to England in disgrace. The Admiral Vernon bowls must therefore date from 1740 or no later than 1741. The popular British subject, together with the use of opaque white enamel suggests an English origin for the decoration. At least two other Chinese bowls with this identical central design are recorded in private collections. Although these are probably by a different hand, their exteriors also feature shipping subjects peopled by 'bowing chinamen' in gold robes and black hats. They also both include a 'smiley face' sun, linking their decoration to other Chinese wares probably painted in London, see lots 52 and 68 in this sale.
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