The firm of Tiffany & Co. was established in New York by the goldsmith and jeweller Charles Louis Tiffany in 1837, and went on to become the leading silversmithing firm in the United States under the creative direction of Edward C. Moore (1827-1891). Tiffany retailed and produced silver objects and jewellery in elegant and refined designs for a wealthy and influential clientele. The firm’s innovative designs drew inspiration from a wide range of sources, including ancient Greek jewellery, Japanese metalwork techniques and from the late 1860s, Islamic decorative arts. This tea service was designed by Moore in the ‘Moresque’ style, so called because he took inspiration from Persian metalwork and Spanish Islamic architecture as seen in Owen Jones’ Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details of the Alhambra. Moore took such an interest to borrowing from these styles he also amassed a large personal collection, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The dense floral ornament on this tea service was achieved with the technique of repoussé, a form of embossed decoration whereby the metal is hammered from the back to create a design in relief.