About the object

Punch, often including sugar, lemon, tea and spices, was a popular alcoholic drink in the eighteenth century. This earthenware punch bowl is believed to have belonged to William Hogarth, artist Governor and supporter of the Hospital. It is thought to have been bequeathed by him or his widow, Jane, to the Hospital. Hogarth had a circle of artist friends who he persuaded to join him in donating works of art to the Hospital. We can imagine him making punch in this bowl for his fellow artists whose artworks hang in the Museum’s galleries.

The design incorporates an English interpretation of a blue dragon design inside the bowl, taken from Chinese porcelain of the Kangxi period (1662-1722). Such ceramic objects, imitating luxury Chinese goods, were much cheaper to produce. They were popular with the English middle class, enabling them to own versions of items previously restricted to the aristocracy.