Pater Gratia Oriental Art

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2011492
2011492

Red & Gold / Rouge-de-Fer 1690-1730

 

Object 2011492

 

Tea caddy

 

China

 

1700-1720

 

Height excluding cover 105 mm (4.13 inch), dimensions 90 mm (3.54 inch) x 57 mm (2.24 inch), weight including cover 355 grams (12.52 ounce (oz.)), weight cover 37 grams (1.31 ounce (oz.))

 

Rectangular tea caddy with canted corners on a flat, unglazed, base. On the flat top an unglazed cylindrical mouth. The original cover is missing. Fitted with a pewter cover (unmarked). Decorated in 'Red & Gold' / 'Rouge-de-fer' with iron-red and gold on the glaze with flowering lotus buds, round the neck half flower heads with leafy scrolls on an iron-red ground alternating with half flower heads with leafy scrolls. On the flat top the cylindrical mouth is flanked by flowering lotus buds. Curious detail is the slightly of centre placing of the filling opening.

 

As the Dutch porcelain historian Lunsingh Scheurleer decided on the term Melk en Bloed, Milch und Blut or Milk and Blood, respectively in his German and English publications, this term has been agreed upon in international academic literature as well as among porcelain collectors.

Melk en Bloed was only imported from China, mainly by Dutch private traders, in the short period of time between ca. 1700 and 1730, a heyday of porcelain art, when the Qing emperors Kangxi (rule 1662-1722) and Yongzheng (rule 1723-1735) reigned. In contrast to the state controlled archiving system of the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) chambers' transactions, order documents from individual dealers as well as private firms in the Netherlands had never been correctly archived and so source material regarding the identity of the persons who commissioned Melk en Bloed is utterly scanty. From the historical records of the electoral Saxon Court in Dresden in particular, we know that several dealers from Amsterdam were involved in the trade of red and gold decorated porcelain. For example the dealer Abraham van Theenen and the commercial enterprise of Godefroy & Dulong are documented there as suppliers, and the inventories of the year 1721 to 1725 record that Count Lagnasco (1659-1735), one of King Augustus the Strong's purchasing agents, acquired some of the most beautiful red and gold pieces of the Dresden collection on his shopping-tour in Amsterdam in 1716. (Suebsman 2019, p.13)

 

For a long time during the 17th century tea from China was in fact viewed upon as a kind of exclusive medicine, however after 1680 it quickly became very popular as a beverage among all classes. A cup of tea was often enjoyed in privacy at home as well as in public tea houses. The latter has even proved to have been a major contribution to women's emancipation, as it indeed allowed women to freely, and unaccompanied, visit these houses together with their lady friends. Tea was available in all sorts of different qualities, ranging from expensive to cheap. It was imported in great quantities from China, the only country where tea was cultivated in those days, to the Netherlands by the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC).

Following the tea hype, porcelain also made its way to the West: cups with fitting saucers, at first without a handle, later on sometimes with. Apart from a Chinese tea pot, 18th century tea sets often also included a corresponding rinsing bowl, milk jug, spoon tray, sugar pot and tea caddy. These tea caddies were almost invariably made of Chinese porcelain and rectangular or ovoid shaped. They were sometimes embellished with metal mounts. Blue specimens were sometimes over-decorated in enamel colours in the Netherlands (Amsterdams Bont) to make them look more appealing. In case a Chinese tea caddy was lost, it could be replaced by one made of Delftware. (source: The World at Home: Asian porcelain and Delft pottery held from 17 June 2017 to 10 March 2019 at the Groninger Museum, The Netherlands) 

 

Condition: Two firing flaws and some glaze rough spots to the edges.

 

References:

Suebsman 2019, p.13 

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: € 599 - $ 661 - £ 512

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)

 

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