Plate, Yongzheng c.1724-27, with the arms of Harcourt impaling Vernon, Viscount Harcourt. Pair of plates available.
This service was made for Simon Harcourt of Stanton Harcourt, who was created Baron Harcourt in 1711 and raised to a viscount in 1721. It can be dated very precisely between September 1724 when he married his third wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Vernon of Twickenham Park (a London merchant, politician and director of the East India Company) and July 1727 when he died.
Simon Harcourt was called to the Bar in 1683 and quickly developed a reputation as a brilliant barrister and orator, taking part in many prestigious trials, including the impeachment of Lord Somers in 1701 and that of the prosecution of Daniel Defoe, the novelist and pamphleteer, in 1703 for seditious libel. He represented the town of Abingdon in parliament and by 1713 had become Lord Chancellor. Together with his colleague and the chief minister Robert Harley, Simon Harcourt was one of the principal ministers to Queen Anne. He was created Viscount in 1721 during the reign of George I and held vice-regal power in the king’s absence. As a member of the Saturday Club he enjoyed the company of literary men of similar political views, such as Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, and entertained Queen Anne at his country estate.
The impaled arms show a marriage, with the arms of Harcourt on the left as viewed, and Vernon on the right. Two lions rampant support the shield on either side, with the motto ’Le bon temps viendra’ beneath. Above the shield, repeated on the rim, is the coronet of a viscount.
The coronet indicates that the holder belongs to one of the five ranks of the British Peerage, being in descending order: duke, marquess, earl, viscount and baron. These ranks of nobility also allow the holder to bear supporters, which are figures, usually beasts but sometimes human, placed on either side of a shield to ‘support’ it. On armorial porcelain, particularly in the early years of the 18th century, these add a rich distinction to the decorative aspect. Of some 5,000 British services, only about 200 were made for the nobility and have a coronet, of which 22 services were made for viscounts. [These do not include services made for baronets who, although have hereditary titles, do not form part of the peerage, and do not have coronets.]
The reverse of both plates with collection label of Frances L. Dickson. She is mentioned in the delightful memoirs, I couldn’t Even Boil an Egg, of Elisabeth Lindesay on life in various parts of the Middle East during the 1950s and ‘60s with her banker husband, Dickson’s grandson. See Newsletter No. 4 for an extract about Frances Dickson.
Mezzotint engraving c.1713 of Simon Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt, by John Simon after Sir Godfrey Kneller (courtesy National Portrait Gallery).
Reference : Howard, David S.; Chinese Armorial Porcelain, Volume I, p.170
Condition : Both plates with small reverse chips filled, otherwise perfect.