Tea and coffee set

ARTIST / MAKER: Hunt and Roskell (manufacturer)
DATE: 1869 (made)
PLACE: England (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver, silver-gilt interior and ivory insulators

This tea and coffee set is decorated with a chased floral trelliswork design on a patterned surface; a pattern originally designed for the Earl of Ashburnham when he commissioned a silver dinner service from Storr & Mortimer in the 1830s. An avid traveller and collector of art, the Earl wanted a very particular design adapted from Moorish ornament, the honeycomb effect inspired by muqarnas, a form of ornamented vaulting used in Islamic architecture.

This honeycomb pattern with floral blossoms was reinterpreted by Hunt & Roskell in the 1860s as the ‘Ashburnham pattern’, although was not a commission from the family. With the Great Exhibition in 1851, art and styles from around the world were showcased, with ‘Moorish’ art capturing the attention of the British public. The publication of Owen Jones’ Grammar of Ornament in 1856 also served to heighten the interest in Eastern styles; with chapters covering Moorish, Arabian, and Persian styles the book became an important source of inspiration for designers. Hunt & Roskell, located on Bond Street, London, were a renowned silversmithing and jewellery firm that successfully responded to the varied fashions and trends of the British public. The successors to Storr and Mortimer, they held the Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria for many years and showcased their work at Exhibitions around the world.