The Chitra Collection: Stunning Silver Wares

The Chitra Collection: Stunning Silver Wares
Made by Henri Duponchel circa 1860, the pieces of this rare French tea and coffee set are decorated in the Ottoman style and are engraved with the coat of arms of the Cambacérès family, members of the French aristocracy. This style is typical of French Orientalism, which became very fashionable in France in the 19th century.

Political and social change in Europe in the 17th century had a direct effect on how wealthy people spent their money and on the quality of goods available to them. In England, with Charles II restored to the throne in 1660 and the Puritans gone, the upper classes felt a renewed sense of stability and security and so indulged their taste for opulence and display by purchasing expensive objects from English silversmiths.

The Chitra Collection: Stunning Silver Wares
In 1713, English silversmith Thomas Parr fashioned this tea canister. The shape was based on the porcelain jars used in China to store dry tea leaves.

Just as the demand for expensive table wares and decorative items was increasing in the 1680s, Protestant Huguenots, fleeing from persecution and economic hardship in France, were settling in England, bringing a level of skill and a quality of work not previously seen there. Meanwhile, people from England and other parts of Europe (including more Huguenot families) were emigrating to America to start a new life. Once settled, those with enough money were eager to acquire fine wares for their new homes. Despite a strong allegiance to their new chosen land, many émigrés retained a powerful emotional link with homelands, and so designs in America followed the same trends as in England and the rest of Europe. 

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