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•D2363. Large Polychrome Tureen, Cover and Stand

Delft, circa 1780

Marked with an axe in manganese for De Porceleyne Byl (The Porcelain Axe) factory

The front, reverse and sides of the bombé tureen and cover painted in manganese with a fenced garden scene with stylized rock work, flowering branches and shrubbery, two manganese-ground foliate loop handles, the cover surmounted by a knop formed as a yellow corn with green leaves, and the center of the stand with a similar fenced garden scene, encircled by two manganese foliate scrollwork bands.

Overall height: 30.5 cm. (12 in.) Length of stand: 37.4 cm. (14.7 in.)

The fashionable dining à la Française (in the French manner) swept through Europe during the eighteenth century. Inspired by the French court of Louis XIV (1638-1715, reigned 1643-1715), guests were served numerous dishes at once during the formal dinner service. A 1790 Housekeeper’s Instruction illustrates that a dinner à la Française included three courses: the first of “soups, boiled poultry, fish and boiled meats,” the second of “different kinds of game, high seasoned dishes, arts, jellies, etc.,” and the third consisted of a dessert course of “fruits, and various kinds of ornamental pastries…”.

Dining à la Française necessitated a wide range of tablewares to complement the numerous dishes, many in the form of tureens and platters. Further, the introduction of new dishes at the end of the seventeenth century encouraged the invention of new tableware. One example is a ragout of meat, a meal that needed to be served in a deep tureen. Large tureens were also used for soups and stews, while the smaller tureens were intended for sauces and creams. While the tureen originally functioned to keep the courses warm, the form also played a distinct decorative role on the dinner table. As the largest serving ware, it was typically designed as the most decorative and impressive object, and acted as the centerpiece on a formal dining table. The panoply of wares were symmetrically arranged on the table and within reach for guests to serve themselves, making it a socially dynamic style of dining. The practice was an opportunity to showcase the culmination of splendor in the meal as well as the elaborate serving wares.

Small tureens in all sorts of shapes were a characteristic form produced by Delft factories. The wide variety of these tablewares suggests that they were produced by numerous potteries in the city. Large tureens are however rather rare in Delftware. A rather similarly shaped tureen surmounted with an artichoke, produced in the city of Arnhem around 1765 is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (inv. no. BK-NM-11622). Another manganese-decorated tureen produced in Arnhem around 1770, lacking its stand, is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (inv. no. BK-15134).

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