Ewer, 16th century (ca. 1585). Made in China (porcelain); Made in London, England (silver-gilt). Porcelain, silver-gilt. H. 13 5/8 in. (34.6 cm). Rogers Fund, 1944 (44.14.2). © 2000–2013 The Metropolitan Museum of Art
In the sixteenth century, Chinese porcelain occasionally arrived in England, sometimes by way of the Levant, sometimes by sea around the Cape of Good Hope. As it was very rare and considered a special treasure, the most accomplished English silversmiths were often commissioned to make mounts for it. Pieces such as these were regarded as suitable for royal gifts or for the furnishing of princely houses. The ewer shown here is one of a group of Chinese porcelains of the Wanli period (1573–1620), with silver-gilt mounts made in London by an unidentified silversmith about 1585. They were all acquired by the Museum from the estate of J. P. Morgan.