Dutch delft press-molded, fluted dish decorated in blue, yellow, and green with a quarter-length portrait of Mary II (1662-1694) wearing a crown flanked with the initials "M R," which was a popular decoration for both fancy and simple delftware pieces. Mary II was the eldest daughter of James II (1633-1701), and her Dutch husband, William of Orange (1650-1702), who was also Stadholder of the United Provinces from 1672-1702, was the great-nephew of Charles I. William III and Mary II jointly ascended the throne in 1689 on the invitation of the English parliament after the Bloodless or Glorious Revolution of 1688 resulted in the flight of James II to France; they were the only dual monarchy in British history. Their tenure transformed the rule by the divine right of kings to that of a constitutional monarchy. The English public embraced Mary, whom they considered lovely, but William’s foreign birth, natural reserve, and ill health won him few admirers. Fueling William’s unpopularity was his involvement in foreign wars that increased England’s national debt to £12 million in 1700. Many of these Dutch dishes were produced for the English market between 1689 and Mary's death in 1694; and some continued to be produced as commemorative items until William's death in 1702. These lobed, gadrooned, and fluted ceramic forms, which were modeled after contemporary silver forms, were produced by molds which started to be used in Holland, Germany, and England in the 17th century. They were used for serving dishes and probably were hung on the wall to ornament an interior. Mary II has a yellow oval in the center of the blue and green crown, yellow necklace, well-pronounced breasts, and a yellow and blue-striped front; and is framed by two yellow and blue tulips with wavy leaves. Since Dutch pot-painters did not always have access to contemporary prints or images, they occasionally improvised when portraying the features of the monarchs. Mary looks disheveled with her cockeyes and exposed breasts, while William, on a related dish (HD 58.020), appears long-faced and serious. These unflattering representations may reflect the painter’s limited skills, or could be an intentional caricature of England’s royal couple. Although manufactured in Holland, dishes of this type found their way to New England. Dishes of similar size and rim decoration descended in the Warren and Winslow families of Plymouth colony, now owned by the Pilgrim Society, Plymouth, Massachusetts. The wavy rim has a scalloped edge and is decorated with a elaborate band of interconnected yellow, green, and blue flowers, leaves, fruit, and blue ribbon-like designs. The dish is supported on a pronounced, applied foot ring.
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