This tea set was made at the Sèvres porcelain factory in 1845 and is described as a tête-à-tête (‘face to face’) because it includes the necessary tea wares required to serve two people. The design of this set is known as the ‘déjeuner chinois réticulé’ (Chinese reticulated service), and each piece has been skillfully modelled and features a double porcelain wall. The term ‘reticulated’ refers to the net-like appearance of the pierced external walls and the technical skill of three different workers would have been required to complete each piece. Designed in 1832 by Hyacinthe Régnier, the service was inspired by the Chinese porcelain sold at auction in 1826 by the Parisian dealer F. Sallé. The sale included white openwork pieces which appealed greatly to the director of the Sèvres factory, Alexandre Brongniart. The design of the set demonstrates the fashion for exoticism in France during the mid-19th century and the simulated bamboo handles and spouts make further reference to Chinese art and culture. The reticulated services produced at the factory were extremely fashionable and several versions were ordered by Queen Marie-Amélie, who purchased at least seven between 1835 and 1843 as gifts and for personal use, an extraordinary example of which exists in the Louvre (OA 11098-11111).