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A Qianlong Chinese export porcelain Apostle plate offered at Jorge Welsh. Price on application.

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The depiction of the Apostles in Chinese porcelain is very rare, although it appears that at least two sets of these plates were made at the Jingdezhen kiln, based perhaps on engravings or prayer books given to a Chinese workshop by Jesuit missionaries.

The portraits are set within Du Paquier-style border issuing peacocks, scale panels, florettes and strapwork, interrupted by a polychrome oval medallion with a dove surmounted by the divine eye appears to be unique to this series of plates.

The first recorded example, a plate showing St Paul, was illustrated by Jean Paul van Goidsenhoven in the 1936 text La Ceramique Chinoise sous les Ts’ing 1644-1851.

It later transpired that perhaps two sets of Apostle plates has been made, one dispersed as part of the Baronne della Faille collection in 1971 and another in a French private collection until 1950.

It later transpired that perhaps two sets of Apostle plates has been made, one dispersed as part of the Baronne della Faille collection in 1971 and another in a French private collection until 1950.