Tea bowl, coffee cup, saucer

ARTIST / MAKER: Worcester porcelain factory (manufacturer)
DATE: ca. 1770 (made)
PLACE: Worcester (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain, with overglaze enamels and gilt

The Worcester porcelain factory was founded in 1751 by Dr. John Wall, a chemist, artist and physician, whose aim was to emulate the porcelain produced by the great European manufactories of Meissen and Sèvres. The factory produced wares that were thinly potted, yet better able to withstand the temperature of boiling water, and were considerably cheaper than the porcelain imported from China and Japan. This was due to the use of soapstone, a rock rich in the mineral talc, that was added to reinforce the clay. This trio set is decorated with the factory’s asymmetrical ‘brocade’ pattern of Chinese dragons, prunus branches and trellis panels painted in polychrome enamels and gilt. This pattern originated from a commission in the early 18th century to make replacements for some Japanese Arita porcelain dishes. The design was directly copied from the dishes and the motif was used for several years after. This set is known as a trio, which typically includes a coffee cup, tea bowl and only one saucer which would have been used interchangeably depending on whether the user was drinking tea or coffee.