Tea chest and three canisters

ARTIST / MAKER: Bilston (manufacturer)
DATE: ca.1770 (made)
PLACE: Staffordshire (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Enamelled metal with velvet lined interior, gilt-metal mounts

During the 1770s, enamelled tea chests similar to this example were made in South Staffordshire and Birmingham. The polychrome pastoral scenes and Italianate landscapes that decorate this set are combined with Rococo-style scrollwork gilding against a pink ground, which creates a luxurious effect. Pastoral scenes and Italianate landscapes by French painter François Boucher (1703-1770) and engraver François Vivares (1709-1780) became primary subjects for many enamellers and were reproduced in a variety of groupings. As both tea and sugar were expensive commodities during the 18th century, tea chests usually featured a lock allowing the owner to secure the valuable contents.