A Gift From Half a World Away
These oversize mugs illustrate China's domination of the global luxury ceramics market in the 1700's. At the time, fine Chinese porcelain was highly sought after across the world. Wealthy Europeans and Americans commonly sent special orders to factories in Guangzhou (Canton) with detailed instructions for custom designs. The resulting objects, like these large mugs, were both expensive and a status symbol.
These vessels commemorate the success of their owner, Issac Gustav Clason (1748-1804), and portray his prosperous iron foundry business, Furudals Bruk, which he had purchased in 1776. Under his management, the foundry became one of the main producers of quality ironwork in Sweden. The mugs were probably ordered in 1792 and may have traveled from China to Sweden on the Sophia-Magdalena, a ship operated by the powerful Swedish East India Company.
Chinese Made, Swedish Designed
The drawing here is a rare surviving source for decoration on Chinese export porcelain. This view of Furudals Bruk is by Gustaf Henrik Hertzenheilm (1749-1804), a Swedish nobleman who rose to the rank of major in the Swedish army. The drawing is titled Prospect of Furudals Courtyard from Öslorn (Utsigt af Furudals Gård från Öslorn) and was likely drawn as a topographical or survey sketch before it became the inspiration for the design on the mug.
On the back of the picture frame a second drawing is attached. It is a simplified copy of Herzenhielm's drawing, perhaps made to be sent with the porcelain order.