European ceramicists borrowed motifs from Chinese porcelains throughout history, creating Asian-inspired designs on their own earthenwares and porcelains. However, this relationship of artistic exchange did not go one way. Chinese artists also took inspiration from Western art, painting scenes of mythology, Biblical stories, and everyday European life on porcelain dishes, platters, and punch bowls. These were usually derived from source prints. Examples of Modern multi-cultural interactions, these porcelain were then exported back to Europe for consumption by a Western audience. This Chinese export punch bowl is one such example, featuring a central scene adapted from Rubens’s 1597 oil painting The Judgement of Paris.
The scene depicts the Greek myth in which Paris, a Trojan prince, is forced to choose the most beautiful goddess among Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera. After the promise (or bribe) of receiving in marriage the most beautiful woman in the world, Paris selects Aphrodite. That woman, with the “face that launched a thousand ships,” was Helen of Sparta, and Paris’s abduction of her started the Trojan War.