ARTIST / MAKER: Christopher Dresser (designer) attributed to
Minton & Co. (manufacturer)
DATE: 1877 (made)
PLACE: Staffordshire (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Lead-glazed earthenware

This teapot was made by Minton, a ceramics factory that was established in 1793 by Thomas Minton. In its first decades of production, the factory focused on the manufacture of tea and tablewares from materials such as cream-coloured earthenware, majolica (lead glazed earthenware) and Palissy ware (tin-glazed earthenware). As a leading ceramics manufacturer throughout the 19th century, the factory continuously developed its range of styles, forms and ornament to cater to ever-changing Victorian fashions. Modelled in the shape of an iron, this white-glazed majolica teapot demonstrates the factory’s ability to create novelty designs. A cat balances precariously on the handle while eyeing a mouse eating a carrot below, which forms the finial of the lid. The design bears a registration mark for 1875 and is attributed to Christopher Dresser, who from the late 1860s supplied Minton with designs for tablewares and ornamental pieces, some of which are still produced today. The whimsical teapot is characteristic of Dresser’s output; he valued humour as a mark of humanity and regularly drew from Celtic and Gothic grotesques which he praised in his publication Principles of Decorative Design (1873). The ‘cat and mouse’ teapot was a limited edition design of which Minton produced 2,500 in brightly coloured lead glazes, suggesting that this teapot may have been an early prototype.