Tea bowl and saucer

ARTIST / MAKER: Unknown
DATE: 1736-1795 (made)
PLACE: China (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain painted in overglaze enamels
COLLECTION NUMBER: 1388

As the British colonies in India solidified throughout the 18th century, East India Company ships would stop at various Indian ports on their long voyages between Western Europe and Canton, prompting wealthy European administrators stationed along the coasts to commission fashionable Chinese export porcelain with familiar scenes.
This particular scene is painted in polychrome enamels and depicts a European lady in fine robes, seated on a Persian rug and holding a tea bowl and saucer. An Indian boy wearing a turban and Oriental clothing is depicted carrying a hot water jug to the carved wood tea table. The cushions and table legs both look deliberate but slightly misdrawn by the Chinese painters, which suggests that the design for this was likely copied from a specific image by a European or Indian artist. Domestic scenes such as this demonstrate that much like tea, coffee, silks or exotic spices made available through transatlantic trade, black servants were considered merely as exotic commodities by the wealthy.