The Chitra Collection: European Porcelains

The Chitra Collection: European Porcelains
This pair of white Meissen cups and saucers was made circa 1735. They closely resemble Chinese Dehua porcelain (later known as blanc de Chine), a style that was very popular in Europe in the 18th century. The cups are decorated in molded relief with prunus flowers, a motif typically used on Chinese Dehua wares.

By the time Böttger had worked out how to copy Chinese porcelain, members of the various European royal families and their very wealthy courtiers were drinking tea as an expensive luxury beverage. The Portuguese and the Dutch carried tea home in 1610; tea had arrived in Germany at around the same time on East Frisian ships contracted to the Dutch East India Company; by the 1630s, wealthy French families were drinking tea; the Dutch delivered the first tea into London during the 1650s; and Russia learned to love tea in the 1680s. It was, of course, only the very rich who could afford those early deliveries of tea. Even in the parts of Europe where coffee eventually became the most popular beverage, the royal family and the aristocracy enjoyed tea and owned collections of very fine, expensive porcelain tea wares. As tea drinking continued to be fashionable amongst the rich through the 18th century, the importance of exquisite tea wares also grew, for they showed the world just how wealthy and important their owners were and what impeccable taste they had.


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