Jingdezhen, 1736-1795. Porcelain; height 3 ½, width 9 ¼ inches.
Copeland Collection gift.
This tureen modeled in the form of a crab on a lotus leaf is one of only three published examples. The eyes-formed like dumbbells-are set freely in openings so that they move when the lid is handled. A sauce tureen would be the obvious function of this form, though the 1783 inventory of Joaquim Inácio da Cruz Sobral refers to tureens shaped as a pomegranate, a crab, and ducks all used as butter dishes.
The museum owns a series of China trade watercolors depicting the production of porcelain, including the one shown above right, which illustrates a potter putting the finishing touches on the construction of an object much like this tureen, while a completed one is on the ground nearby.