Teapot and stand

ARTIST / MAKER: Burgess & Leigh (manufacturer)
DATE: ca.1896 (made)
PLACE: Staffordshire (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Earthenware, lead-glazed, transfer-printed, painted and gilt

Burgess & Leigh registered the shape ‘No. 281720’ and design ‘No. 285771’ of this teapot and stand in 1896, however the shape and decoration was directly copied from a popular biscuit tin already in production by Huntley & Palmer biscuit makers (V&A- M.257-1983). This plagiarism resulted in a lawsuit that was eventually settled in favour of the original designers and Burgess & Leigh agreed that in future they would only produce the teapot with monochrome decoration, making this example a rare survival of the original multi-coloured version. Traditionally Chinese shapes and decoration were the most common for teawares, but by the late-19th century, when tea was brought from the British colonies in India, Indian-inspired designs became increasingly fashionable and this teapot depicts a gentleman riding an elephant with his attendants.