Chinese Imari 1700-1800
Height including cover 122 mm (4.80 inch), height excluding cover 116 mm (4.57 inch), dimensions 96 mm (3.77 inch) x 54 mm (2.13 inch), weight including cover 360 grams (12.70 ounce (oz.)), weight cover 22 grams (0.78 ounce (oz.))
Tea caddy of rectangular form with canted corners. Four flat feet at the corners. On the flat top an unglazed cylindrical mouth with its original cover. Chinese Imari, decorated in underglaze blue, overglaze iron-red and gold with on the large panels a flower head on a ruyi head flanked by leafy scrolls and on the small panels flowering plants growing from behind a garden fence. The corner panels are filled with half flower heads on an underglaze blue ground with leafy scrolls in gold. On the shoulder two flower sprays. The cover is decorated on the side with flower sprays and on top with a river scape.
Only grown in China and Japan during the 17th Century, tea became known in the Netherlands early because the Dutch East India Company (VOC) shipped small quantities home. Its use as a beverage was established slowly, and was probably started by retired VOC employees who had become accustomed to drinking tea in the East. At a tea party, the expensive beverage was served in small teapots, one for each guest, filled with the leaves of the type he or she preferred. The tea was poured into small cups, while the teapot was refilled with hot water from a metal or sometimes ceramic kettle. Teacups should be thin (Delftware cups were too thick) and porcelain was the ideal material. Fortunately, the Chinese had a long tradition of drinking tea and their cups - without handles or matching saucers - and teapots arrived in Europe in the wake of the tea cargoes. When tea became more popular, the imports of tea (and later coffee) wares increased. Matching saucers, probably based on the Islamic practice of drinking coffee from metal cups with saucers, became standard around the 1690s. Tall cups with covers were a short-lived fashion because they were too expensive, while cups with handles seem to have been introduced in the 1710s. The French started drinking tea with milk and sugar, and consequently small milk jugs made after Western models, candy pots and pattipans (small saucers placed underneath the teapot and milk jug to prevent drops from falling on the table) were introduced. Tea caddies, spoon trays and slop bpowls used to rinse the teacups followed. The tea service, with uniformly decorated components, was developed in England in the early 18th century. (Jörg 2011/2, p.131)
Condition: Various popped bubbles of glaze to rim of the cover, caused during the firing process and some glaze rough spots to the edges of the tea caddy.
Exhibition: The World at Home: Asian porcelain and Delft pottery held from 17 June 2017 to 10 March 2019 at the Groninger Museum, The Netherlands.
Price: € 499 - $ 547 - £ 437
(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)