Punch Bowl

Date: ca. 1786–90

Geography: Made in China

Culture: Chinese, for American market

Medium: Porcelain

Dimensions: Diam. 16 in. (40.6 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Gift of Lucille S. Pfeffer, 1984

Accession Number: 1984.449

Description

This extraordinary punchbowl features a remarkably faithful replica of the engraved certificate, dated December 1785, issued to Ebenezer Stevens (1751-1823) by the Society of the Cincinnati. Stevens was a major-general in command of the New York artillery and was vice president of the New York branch of the society. The decorative silver-gilt mount on the rim and around the foot were probably made during the early nineteenth century in response to an earlier crack—evidence of the extent to which the bowl was valued by its owner. A related bowl, a polychrome version, was made for Colonel Richard Varick (1753-1831). Varick was president of the New York branch of the society while Stevens was vice president. Although Varick's military career was tarnished by his association with Benedict Arnold, he later became Washington's confidential secretary and was mayor of New York from 1789 to 1801. It has descended in Stevens’ family. To the left of the inscription is Cincinnatus, with a giant eagle at his side, holding aloft a flag adorned with the American eagle. Lightning bolts repel the English lion and the figure of Britannia. To the right, against a harbor scene, the horn-blowing Angel of Fame displays the seal of the Society.

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