Tea canister

ARTIST / MAKER: Meissen porcelain factory (manufacturer)
DATE: ca.1730 (made)
PLACE: Germany (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain painted in enamels and gilt

Tea canisters were containers used to store tea leaves, the form and function of which originated in Ming Dynasty China (1368–1644). It was not until the late 17th century that they were imported into Europe and subsequently reproduced by European manufacturers such as Meissen and Sèvres. This tea canister is decorated in the manner of Meissen porcelain decorator Johann Gregorius Höroldt, and features chinoiserie figures in exotic robes, holding fans, fruit and parasols, surrounded by flowering shrubs and flying insects. Meissen’s great artistic period began in 1720 with the appointment of Höroldt as the chief painter at the factory. He was instrumental in the introduction of a wide range of enamel colours and the discovery of durable gilding, which became a prominent feature of Meissen’s decoration. Höroldt also introduced specific decorative schemes based on overtly exotic scenes inspired by Chinese and Japanese art, which were at the height of fashion in the early 18th century. The celebrated collection of Höroldt’s chinoiserie pattern sheets has survived as the so-called Schulz Codex, which was used by most Meissen decorators from the 1720s to the end of the 19th century.