This Meissen porcelain tea caddy of hexagonal form was painted in Augsburg by the hausmaler workshop of Abraham and Bartholomäus Seuter. The brothers were both accomplished craftsmen: Abraham Seuter (1699-1747) was a goldsmith and ‘fire painter’, a term which denominated those who specialised in decorating porcelain with gilding. Bartholomäus Seuter (1678-1754) was a porcelain painter and dealer, but also a silk dyer, engraver and publisher. Initially, they decorated plain, tinglazed ceramic ‘in the white’ from the Bayreuth and Nuremberg manufactories, but by the 1720s their workshop was decorating Meissen porcelain using gold, silver and polychrome enamels.
They were especially skilled at Goldchinesen ornament, or gilt chinoiserie scenes, which decorate this example. The decoration on each facet alternates between Chinese dignitaries drinking tea under palm trees and parasols, and fanciful birds resting on branches. Such scenes were commonly drawn from contemporary engravings in travel books on Asia and from the work of Johann Gregorius Höroldt (1696-1775). Höroldt produced thousands of sketches depicting exotic landscapes and quaintly dressed East-Asian figures, which he compiled into a book known as the Schulz Codex, in 1723-1724.