Among the more curious Jacobite-related artefacts in the possession of the National Museum of Scotland is a china bowl that celebrates Bonnie Prince Charlie’s crushing defeat at the Battle of Culloden.
The porcelain punch bowl was manufactured in China for export to Europe within months of the decisive confrontation at Culloden field in April 1746 which would prove to be the last pitched battle fought on British soil.
It carries a depiction of the battle as well as portrait medallions of Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, whose Hanoverian forces claimed a resounding victory.
In more technical terms, the bowl is an example of Chinese famille-rose, a porcelain style that first came into production during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722).
Exports of Chinese porcelain to Britain had been ongoing since the Ming Dynasty, when it was brought to Europe by Portuguese traders, but by the Hanoverian era, its popularity reached a new peak.
The Hanoverians imported vast amounts of porcelain for use around the home. It is thought during this period the term ‘china’ readily became accepted as a term for all porcelain objects.
Victory at the Battle of Culloden was viewed as the final nail in the coffin for the Jacobite movement which ultimately sought to oust the House of Hanover and reinstate a Catholic Stuart monarch to the British throne.
Little wonder then that the Hanoverians would seek to mark this historic occasion by ordering a highly-fashionable memento from the Far East to illustrate their success.
Had history been kinder to the cause of the Jacobites, perhaps we may have seen a porcelain punch bowl bearing the face of Charles Edward Stuart.
The Culloden punch bowl will be put on permanent display in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland’s Exploring East Asia gallery.
The new gallery, which is part of an £80 million revamp of the museum, opens on 8 February.