Object Spotlight: Reticulated Chestnut Basket

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Filoli’s Museum Object Collection contains hundreds of porcelain and ceramic objects. One of the larger
sub collections within the collection is Chinese Export porcelain. Which is fitting since both the Bourns and Roths collected Chinese porcelains. While we are fortunate to have some of their original pieces we also have a number of examples from other donors and collectors.

Chestnut baskets were designed to serve steaming-hot peeled chestnuts. The pierced sides allow the hot steam to escape so these winter treats can be more safely enjoyed. This Chinese reticulated (cut out) chestnut basket dates to around 1780. It’s delicate pierced sides surround a polychrome decorated scene painted on the interior bottom of the basket. The scene is brightly painted and shows a number of detailed figures on a garden terrace. The color scheme of the decorations is typical of famille rose (pink family) porcelains of the period. The applied handles are also gilded. It likely originally had a matching underplate which has become separated from it in the intervening centuries.

By Julie Bly DeVere, Director of Museum Collections