Tea bowl and saucer

ARTIST / MAKER: Richard Chaffers & Co. (manufacturer)
DATE: ca.1760-1762 (made)
PLACE: Liverpool (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain with transfer-printed enamels

The transfer-printed scenes on this tea bowl and saucer are from Robert Hancock’s engraving entitled ‘The Tea Party’, first published in a pattern book in 1756. Hancock’s work became one of the most popular designs to be used on British teawares until the late 18th century. The saucer shows an elegant couple in an outdoor setting, seated on a bench around a three-legged tea table. A black servant on the fringes of the scene carries a hot water kettle. In the second half of the 18th century, the largest employment sector for black populations in London and British coastal cities was in the domestic services. A large number worked as servants, cooks and valets, but unlike their white counterparts, these domestic workers were often unpaid, unable to leave their employment and treated as property. The representation of black and Asian domestic servants was recurrent throughout art and design of this period: Ceramics, textiles and prints featured images of servants to flaunt the wealth and status of their employers.