The Staffordshire potteries were at the centre of British ceramic production from the mid 18th century, using the area’s abundant supplies of clay and coal to produce earthenware and stoneware vessels. As tea drinking became more affordable throughout British society, Staffordshire potters began experimenting with clays and decoration to appeal to a growing demand for fashionable and inexpensive teawares.
This teapot’s globular shape was a relatively cheap model to produce, while the moulded crabstock spout and handle were notable features of salt-glazed stoneware made around the 1750s and 60s. Although salt-glazed stoneware teapots were usually painted with blue and pink enamels, this teapot is decorated in a rarer palette of green and black enamels to imitate shagreen, the skin of a shark or stingray. Shagreen became a popular material in the mid-18th century when Madame de Pompadour, mistress to King Louis XIV and famous advocate of the arts, bought many shagreen items from the craftsman Jean-Claude Galuchat. The matte enamel rose sprigs were a popular design theme on pieces of the period and were associated with the Jacobite cause in England during the 1740s.