The Chitra Collection: European Porcelains

The Chitra Collection: European Porcelains
This teapot, made by Sèvres in 1785, has a bleu-celeste (heavenly blue) background enriched with gold dots and gold threading. Inspired by jewelry, the decoration imitates two friezes with polychrome enamel and gold, which form scrolling arabesques of foliage.

At Meissen, early tea bowls were decorated with scenes of Chinese people in a garden, Chinese nobles with their servants, Japanese-style flowers such as chrysanthemums, and birds sitting on tree branches. In France, Sèvres used similar designs, decorating tea wares with flowers, insects, and people, but also copying ideas from Japanese Kakiemon porcelain. They also added more elaborate Gallic touches of swirling ribbons tied through baskets and around bunches of flowers, cupids with bows and arrows, and festoons of branches bearing bright red berries. English potters were greatly influenced by oriental designs but also by decorations used at Meissen and Sèvres, and often applied images and molded decorations of plants such as PrunusCamellia sinensisAcanthus, and bamboo, and designs using brightly colored birds, partridges, tigers, and dragons. In Vienna, where gold and silver had long been preferred at court as the finest material for use at the dining table, it took much longer for porcelain to attract interest amongst the nobility. When it did, porcelain wares commissioned for wealthy families were decorated not in the Chinese or Japanese style, but bearing ornate and heavily gilded classical and mythological images of Greek gods, Greek temples, Italian landscapes, and Austrian palaces and cities.

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