Tag Archive | british wing

Ceramic Cabbage Teapot

ceramic cabbage teapot photo by gail worley
Photos By Gail

How did an ancient Asian tradition become something quintessentially British? The fashion for Tea drinking in Great Britain started at court in the later seventeenth century and spread among the aristocracy. Tea remained a heavily taxed luxury until a century later, 1n 1784, when tea duties were slashed from 119 to 12.5 percent, making it affordable to the general public.

In the eighteenth century, the rise of the East India Company — founded to trade with India, Southeast Asia, and China — led to a British monopoly on tea distribution. This global grip established the nation’s mercantile empire, critically dependent on colonial occupation and the movement of slaves. In 1771, American colonists famously protested Britain’s commercial control, dumping imported tea into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party.

ceramic cabbage teapot photo by gail worley

Ambitious British pottery manufacturers and retailers leveraged tea’s popularity to their advantage, cultivating an enormous national ceramics industry. Vastly expanded production yielded new wares, materials and consumers. Profit margins on ceramics were slim, so quality mattered, as did efficiency. Resources and skills were often shared, as innovative makers sprung up and sometimes quickly failed. These developments signaled a shift — creative and economic — toward mass manufacture in a remarkably nimble market, generating a booming export industry for Britain as a result

Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Eye On Design: Chinese-Inspired Fretwork Candlestands

pair of fretted candle stands 2 photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

Chinese fretwork first appeared in Britain in the early eighteenth century on garden fences, but it was not until midcentury that the vogue for fretwork on furniture erupted.

top fret detail photo by gail worley

Here, the three-dimensional angular pattern seems to float in midair to support a small, six-sided tray. The exact design for these candelstands comes from the first edition (1754) of Thomas Chippendale’s Gentlemen and Cabinet-Maker’s Director.

center fret detail photo by gail worley

This Pair of Mahogany Candlestands (Circa 1755 – 60) Was Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

pair of fretted candle stands photo by gail worley

Eye On Design: Gilded Wooden Bench by Thomas Hope

gilded wooden bench by thomas hope photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

A member of a wealthy banking family and sophisticated patron of the arts, Thomas Hope (17391861) set out to influence and improve contemporary taste through the publication of his own collection in Household Furniture and Interior Decoration (1807).

gilded wooden bench by thomas hope installation view photo by gail worleyInstallation View

Following interest in ancient Rome and Greece, attention turned to Egypt as a major source of inspiration for furniture and interior design. This ‘Egyptian” bench shows influence of Hope’s archeological taste and may have been part of the furnishings of his country house The Deepdene, Dorking, Surrey (outside London). It was possibly sold in the Christie’s sale of the Hope heirlooms held at Deepdene over six consecutive days in September of 1917. Lot 1044, sold on September 17th, consisted of: “a carved 4ft. 4in. gilt Egyptian pattern settee with scroll ends, on claw feet, and squab seat upholstered in gold satin damask.”

gilded wooden bench by thomas hope photo by gail worley

While several surviving pieces of furniture can be attached to the detailed line drawings, Hope never remarked on the fabrics to be used. The present wool covers are based on fiber fragments from this bench and on original textile remains from a settee also designed by Hope, which is now at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.