A Chinese armorial dish for the Spanish market (1st Marquess of Ensenada). Qianlong period

Of octogonal form and decorated in the famille rose palette with the coat of arms of Zenon de Somodevilla y Bengoechea, 1st Marquess of Ensenada, 1. Purpure, an arm brandishing a sword in bend sinister argent between two Moor’s head crowned or. 2. Azure, a tower and on the sinister three mullets in pale argent. 3. Purpure, a griffin spewing fire argent. 4. Argent, on a mount a tree all vert with a wolf at its foot, Bengoechea. All within a bordure argent with eight escallops purpure. The three first quarters and the bordure are the arms of Somodevilla lineage, beneath a marquess coronet, joined to the shield by the cross of Calatrava. a privilege that he was granted in 1742.

The cavetto is decorated with an iron-red and gilt honeycomb diaper reserved with height small panels in blue with a Demi-floret of white petals. On the rim are four groupings of flowers painted in translucent enamels in a combinaison of green, blue, red white, and gold. To the right and left are birds amongst rock work and flowers including peony, chrysanthemum, plum blossom and bamboo. At the top and bottom are groups of different allegorical motifs the canopy, one of the eight buddhist symbols of good fortune, a lantern symbol of happiness, the ruyi symbol of longevity, a pomegranate sub of fertility, a jar and peonies.

Zenon de Somodevilla was Knight of the Order of Calatrava (1742), where he became the Knight Commander of Piedrabuena and the Pena de Martos; Grand Cross of the Order of St. Gennaro (1744); Secretary to the Queen (1747); Honorary Captain General of the Fleet and the Army (1749); Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece (1750); and Grand Cross of the Order of St.  John of Malta (1750).

Period :
Qianlong (1735-1795), circa 1743
9.64 in. (24.5 cm)
Reference :

Related works

For a study about this service, see Rocio Diaz, Chinese armorial for Spain, Jorge Welsh Books, 2010, pp. 120/125.

Several pieces from this service are in various private collections, including an oval-shaped soup tureen, wine coolers, a spice box, plates and two cruet stands.


Zenon de Somodevilla, 1st Marquess of Ensenada, ordered two armorial services. The first, illustrated here is decorated in pink, blue, green, white, yellow and iron-red enamels and gold. This service was most likely ordered after 1742, and before 1744, when Zenon de Somodevilla was granted the cross of Gennaro, which is not included on the armorial of the service.

Zenon de Somodevilla played an important role in the military operations that brought Charles VII to the throne of Naples, who then granted him the title of Marquis de Ensenada in 1736, a name with fitting maritime connotations (Ensenada means ‘inlet’).

In 1737, the Marquess of Ensenada was appointed secretary to the admiral Infante Philip, later becoming his Secretary of State and War and also Intendant General of the Army and Navy for the Italian expedition (Lombardy). Then, after the death of the minister José de Campillo (1743), Philip V appointed Ensenada as Secretary of the four Ministries of Finance, War, Navy and the Indies, to which were added further appointment such as Secretary of State, Superintendent General of Revenues, Lieutenant General of the Admiralty and Public Notary of the Kingdoms of Spain. He remained at this position for eleven years. During his administration, he developed a vast plan for reforms.

His successes caused great envy and he was exiled to Granada in 1754, until Charles III allowed him to return to court in 1760 by appointing him Counsellor of the State. In 1766, he was banished by the King for a second time, to Medina del Campo, where he spent the rest of his days.

By appointment only, 10th arrondissement, Paris. / +33 (0)6 26 57 59 87

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