The Chitra Collection: British and European Pottery and Stoneware

This teapot was made in 1750–60 in Staffordshire from agateware pottery, a type of pottery that imitated the swirling patterns of agate, a semiprecious stone prized in the 17th and 18th centuries. The effect was achieved by using sheets of different colored clay that were stacked, cut, rolled, and then reformed to create a multicolored pattern. The clay was pressed into two half-teapot-shaped moulds that were then joined together. The agate pattern was formed so carefully and intricately that the joints were disguised, although on the pot itself the bond was barely visible. Agateware proved expensive to produce, and by circa 1760, the technique had become obsolete. The finial of this pot is in the shape of a Chinese lion, reflecting the continuing popularity of chinoiserie motifs on teapots and other tea wares.
This tin-glazed earthenware kettle with stand was made by Het Oude Moriaanshooft in Delft, 1761–70, and is marked for Geertruij Verstelle, the owner of the Het Oude Moriaanshooft (The Old Moor’s Head) factory. Moulded in the rococo style, it is decorated with paintings of fashionable couples dancing and playing music in a picturesque landscape. The top of the kettle, the lid, and the stand are decorated with moulded leaves, and the finial of the lid is in the shape of a flower bud. The design was probably inspired by a silver or pewter example and is typical of the kettles silversmiths produced in the 1750s and ’60s in Amsterdam and The Hague. Although the factory produced a number of these, it was unusual for kettles to be made of earthenware.

Throughout Britain, the market for such goods was thriving. In October 1760, the Leeds Intelligencer newspaper included an advertisement from Robinson and Rhodes that offered “… a good assortment of Foreign China and a great variety of useful English china of the newest improvement, which they engage will wear as well as foreign and will change gratis if broke with hot water.” The English potters became so famous that ceramic factories throughout Europe readily employed craftsmen from Staffordshire, Bristol, London, and other cities famous for their potteries. In 1784, Samuel Jones, an employee at the Wedgwood factory, wrote to Georges Bris of Douai in France, “Sir, I take this opportunity of offering my service to you if you think it will be of any service to you I understand that you want some workmen in the Different Branches of poting and I have it in my power to serve you. . . .”

In other parts of Europe, there was less demand for tea things, but potteries made other essential wares in similar materials to suit the middle and working classes. France was the first European country to import and manufacture creamware, and the first factory was established at Pont-aux-Choux in Paris. In 1743, Claude-Imbert Gérin was granted a 10-year privilege to establish a royal manufacture of faience in Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Paris, to imitate English-style creamware. In Central Europe, as the neoclassical style spread during the mid-18th century and influenced all the applied arts, creamwares like those being produced at Wedgwood were shaped with the elegant curves of classic Greek design. In Bohemia, the potteries in the Saar area developed around the coal mines (the proximity to a ready supply of coal as well as clay was another reason so many English potteries were established in Staffordshire) and produced creamwares decorated with moulded relief ornaments or painted decoration.

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