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Decorative Arts

Porcelain imported from China was wildly popular across the Americas. In 1573 alone, merchants in Acapulco imported more than twenty thousand porcelain objects on the Manila Galleon trading ships. With the introduction of dining rooms in Spanish American homes in the 1740s (before then, a table would be set in any room in the house), a demand arose for expensive Chinese export porcelain dinner services. The cost of ordering a complete custom-made service, like that of the marquis Ignacio Gómez de Cervantes, and shipping it to Mexico was extremely high, but porcelain teacups, plates, or ornaments of lesser quality were more accessible and found in the humblest Spanish American homes.

By the eighteenth century, wealthy individuals in British America such as the planter Samuel Vaughan in Jamaica also had the means to order costly china services decorated with the family arms directly from Asia (see octagonal soup plate). In the nascent United States, armorial porcelain was often replaced in popularity by objects featuring generic shield designs personalized with initials, such as the navy blue and gold dinner plate seen here.


La porcelana importada de China era increíblemente popular en las Américas. Sólo en 1573, los comerciantes en Acapulco importaron más de veinte mil piezas de porcelana en los galeones comerciales de Manila. Con la introducción de comedores en las casas hispanoamericanas en los años 1740 (previamente, se ponía una mesa en cualquier lugar de la casa), surgió la demanda por costosas vajillas de porcelana china de exportación. El costo de encargar un servicio completo como el del marqués Ignacio Gómez de Cervantes, y de transportarlo a México era sumamente alto, pero tazas de té de porcelana, platos u ornamentos de menor calidad eran más accesibles y se encontraban hasta en las casas más humildes de Hispanoamérica.

Hacia el siglo XVIII, individuos adinerados en los territorios británicos de América, como el hacendado Samuel Vaughan de Jamaica, también tenían los medios para encargar costosos servicios de porcelana decorados con el escudo de armas familiar directamente de Asia (ver el plato de sopa octagonal). En los nacientes Estados Unidos, la porcelana con decoración heráldica era a menudo sustituida por objetos más populares con diseños de escudos genéricos personalizados con iniciales, como el plato azul marino y dorado que se ve aquí.

MEDIUM Porcelain
DATES ca. 1770
DIMENSIONS 1 1/2 x 6 1/8 in. (3.8 x 15.6 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Museum Collection Fund and Dick S. Ramsay Fund
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CAPTION Saucer, ca. 1770. Porcelain, 1 1/2 x 6 1/8 in. (3.8 x 15.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund and Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 52.166.41. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE group, 52.166.24_52.166.38_52.166.41_52.166.35_52.166.37_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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