Plate, Qianlong c.1762, arms of Dawkins impaling Colyear.
James and Henry Dawkins were two of the three surviving sons of Henry Dawkins, a second-generation sugar planter and member of the General Assembly of Jamaica. Both were educated in England and inherited vast wealth and estates on his death in 1744.
Henry Dawkins (1728-1814), for whom this service was made, was a member of the Jamaican assembly until 1759 but entered the British parliament in 1760, the year after he had married Lady Juliana Colyear, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Portmore. Their arms are impaled on this, and also on a service with similar border decoration made about two years earlier, but the heraldry on this second service changed following a new grant of arms in 1761 to Henry Dawkins.
Some ten years earlier, in 1751, Henry’s brother James Dawkins, a classical scholar, had gone to Asia Minor on an archaeological grand tour with a friend, Robert Wood, and visited Palmyra. The scholarly book of architectural engravings The Ruins of Palmyra, which was published on their return two years later, was a wild success, contributing to the move towards antiquarianism and a more classical style in design, influencing architects such as Robert Adam, clearly visible in his neo-classical ceilings at Syon House and Osterley Park, and also in Nicholas Revett’s designs for the Palmyra Room at West Wycombe Park, and at Henry Dawkins’ own country villa at Standlynch Park (now Trafalgar Park), which he purchased in 1764.
There is no doubt that inspiration for the decoration found on the unique rim border of these two armorial services, and also in the design of palm leaves round the armorial cartouche of the earlier service, was taken from some of the drawings of stonework friezes which would have appeared in his brother’s book.
Pastel portrait of Henry Dawkins by Maurice-Quentin de la Tour (courtesy The National Gallery)
Reference : Howard, David S.; Chinese Armorial Porcelain, Volume I, p.381 for both services.