Peach Cadogan

Object nr. 452 China, 18th century Height:17.1 cm | Width:22.5 cm

Private Collection, The Netherlands

Condition Report available

€ 14,500

This object can be viewed in our gallery.

Additional Information

Peach Cadogan

This ewer is moulded in the shape of a peach. The pointed tip and the characteristic ridge down one side, typify this ancient Chinese fruit. The handle, spout and high foot, are in the shape of gnarly branches with leaves. It is covered in a turquoise glaze over a biscuit fired body, the underside and foot rim edge, are left unglazed. The bottom is pierced in the middle with a large opening.  

This curious type of ewer first originated in China, where it is known as a dao guan hu - upside down filling wine pot. Having no cover, it is filled upside down through the hole in the base. This leads to a long tube up into the ewer, the liquid overflows into the body, preventing a backflow. When the pot is righted, it can be poured through the spout. Standing upright, the ewer appears to have no way to be filled, making it an intriguing curiosity. This type of novelty lidless ewer, is said to be named after William, 1st Earl of Cadogan (1675-1726). He and his wife brought an example to Britain, where they used it as an entertainment, mystifying their guests as it had no apparent means to fill it.

The Peach (taozi), is regarded as a highly symbolic and auspicious symbol in China. Peaches are associated with longevity and feature in many Daoist stories, as immortality is one of their main concerns. According to legend, the peaches of eternal life grew on trees which only blossomed once every 3,000 years, requiring a further 3,000 for the fruit to ripen. These magical trees were said to grow in the gardens of the Goddess Queen Mother of the West (Xiwangmu).

The Anthony de Rothschild collection has a similar turquoise ewer, as does the Lady Lever Collection (Port Sunlight). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York also has a similar ewer (acc. nr.1975.1.1719) in Egg & Spinach glazes. Seven underglaze blue-and-white peach-shaped ewers were among the Hatcher Junk cargo.

Floris van der Ven