About This Artwork

England, London
Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory (English, c. 1743–1769)

Tureen, 1755/56

Soft-paste porcelain with polychrome enamel decoration
22.5 x 36.8 x 22.9 cm (8 7/8 x 14 1/2 x 9 in.)

Amelia Blanxius Memorial Collection, gift of Mrs. Emma B. Hodge and Mrs. Jene E. Bell, 1915.212

For the rich and powerful in the eighteenth century, formal dinner was theater, and it was not uncommon to serve multiple courses, each of which could consist of dishes arranged on the table. Pieces like the rabbit tureen were an important part of the theatrical set decoration. The Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory produced tureens not only in the form of rabbits but also vegetables and birds. Chelsea porcelain makers prided themselves on the realistic results of their craftsmanship, proclaiming in a sales catalogue that they offered “A Fine tureen in the form of a rabbit as big as life and an oval dish.”

Composed of a material called soft-paste porcelain (usually a mixture of clay and ground glass), this tureen has a red anchor mark inside its lid. This mark was used between 1752 and 1756. This particular rabbit tureen is also labeled No. , marking it as third in a limited edition—twenty-five variations of this type are known. Like a fingerprint, no two Chelsea rabbit tureens are exactly the same, and each lid was compatible with only its tureen. The painter who decorated the pieces recorded each object’s number on its lid and its base so that they could be matched in case they were separated.

—About This Object, European Decorative Arts LaunchPad app




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