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Chinese octagonal famille rose 'tobacco leaf' platter, Qianlong (1736-95), decorated with tropical scrolling foliage and scattered stylised flowerheads including passion flowers in bright enamels with gilt detail, all within a narrow band of small scrolls in iron-red with underglaze cobalt blue lines and lotus motif to the corners.
Although this design and related variations are popularly referred to as ‘tobacco leaf’ pattern, the tobacco plant does not necessarily feature – as noted by Howard and Ayers the distinctive serrated leaves may in fact be based on the ‘thick, tropical variegated leaf foliage of Southern Asia and the Pacific’. It has also been suggested that the design was inspired by patterns found on Indian textiles exported in large quantities during the 17th and 18th centuries. The luxurious and intricate pattern proved very popular in Europe, and while Chinese ‘tobacco leaf’ services were exported and bought at great expense, ‘tobacco leaf’ inspired wares made at manufactories including New Hall and Spode could be obtained at a much lower price.
For further information on the ‘tobacco leaf’ pattern and variations see Pierre L. Debomy’s extensive study ‘Feuille de Tabac et Pseudo: Tentative d’Inventaire’, La Société des Amis du Musée national de Céramique Sèvres: France, 2013.