The Chitra Collection: European Porcelains

The Chitra Collection: European Porcelains
This miniature Sèvres tea service, known as a dinette, includes a teapot, two cups and saucers, a covered sugar bowl, and milk jug. Made in 1768, it is very finely painted in the Rococo style with garlands of flowers and gilded patterns of partridge eye, known as oeil de perdrix. This style of decoration was very fashionable at this time and was in great demand amongst female members of the aristocracy. During the 18th century, miniature tea services like this were often given to young aristocratic girls to help educate them in the rituals of tea making.

The new European porcelain manufacturers were strongly influenced by oriental design and decoration. China had, after all, been Europe’s major supplier of both tea and porcelain for more than 100 years, and Japan had become an important source of porcelain wares during the second half of the 17th century when the collapse of the Ming Dynasty had caused the Chinese factories to close. Now, there was so much cross-fertilization of ideas and copying of decorations and designs that it was difficult to know where the original had come from. The Europeans would copy an idea from the Chinese, the Chinese and Japanese copied it from the Europeans, and then the Europeans often copied it back again.

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