Chinese Export Porcelain Oval Platter in Orange Fitzhugh with Striped Shield and Sepia Eagle, about 1800–10
Chinese, for the American Market
Porcelain, painted in underglaze orange and overglaze sepia
1 1/4 in. high x 14 3/8 in. long x 11 5/8 in. wide
Inscribed (in ink, on the bottom of the cover): 2.1.1015-3b; (on a paper label, on the bottom of the cover): L1005/7b; (in ink, on the bottom of the dish): 2.1.1015-3a; (on a paper label, on the bottom of the dish): L1005/7a
In England, so-called Fitzhugh porcelains were those that mimic pieces associated with William FitzHugh, a supercargo/agent in Canton, who shipped Chinese porcelain made for export to England during the late eighteenth century. His signature pattern displays the characteristic center medallion, four floral groups, trellis diaper, and spearhead borders (Fairbanks, p. 151).
Fitzhugh wares seem, however, to have held greater interest in America rather than England. Numerous adaptations of the Fitzhugh pattern tailored for an American clientele were supplied bearing patriotic symbols (such as eagles, flags, and government seals), mottos (such as e pluribus unum), and the monograms of various American patrons. This interest in all things American was likely fueled by the signing of the Constitution in 1787 (see Clare LeCorbeiller and Alice Cooney Frelinhuysen, “Chinese Export Porcelain,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin [Winter 2003], p. 55), a time of particular reverence for the country’s forefathers. This rise in patriotism was also fueled by the increased presence of American shipping agents and merchants stationed in Canton, who encouraged numerous commissions for household goods festooned with such American motifs, as well as portraits of important political figures, including, for example, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams.