Soup plate, Yongzheng c.1730, with the arms of Elwick
This service is known to have been made for John Elwick of Mile End in Middlesex and of Cornhill in the City of London, who died in 1730.
The use of grisaille or black penwork on export porcelain was still relatively new. In 1722 the technique was reported to be not yet satisfactory by the Jesuit missionary, Père d’Entrecolles, while on a tour of the kilns. By 1730 it was clearly successful and this armorial service provides the earliest datable example of its use on export porcelain.
This finely decorated plate also illustrates the transition between the rouge-de-fer or iron-red palette which had been so popular throughout the 1720s and still lingers on in the cavetto of the plate, and the intense geometric diapering on the rim punctuated by scenic panels which would become a border feature of the early to mid 1730s.
Both John Elwick and his brother Thomas were directors of the East India Company while their younger brother, Nathaniel, was Chief Supercargo on several voyages to China including that of the Herne in the 1711/12 season. In 1720 John and Thomas Elwick proposed to the Company that Nathaniel should be sent to Madras in a senior position as Third Member on the Council, which did not endear him to the President of Fort St George, Francis Hastings, who died the following year and was succeeded in the position by Elwick.
See further information in Newsletter No. 5 – available on the Newsletter page.
Reference : Howard, David S.; Chinese Armorial Porcelain, Volume I, p.234