Wednesday, May 13, 2015
"A Teacup Collection" by Molly Hatch
In her introduction to the book, Curator of Decorative Arts Kathleen Morris of the Clark Art Institute notes, "Porcelain cups and saucers were made in profusion in the eighteenth century due to the new fashion of drinking the exotic beverages of tea, coffee, and chocolate. All of these were introduced into Europe through trade in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and had taken hold as fashionable drinks by the early eighteenth century. The raw ingredients of these drinks—tea leaves, coffee beans, cacao beans, and sugar—were all very expensive, so that at first these drinks, like the porcelain they were served in, were the purview only of the wealthy." Sterling Clark, by the way, was one of the heirs of the Singer sewing machine fortune.
The real highlight of this book, though, is all the charming paintings, included in a catalog format and even featuring tiny details from the saucers, which are not pictured. In a book such as this, I love to stop and linger every few pages and decide which cup I find the prettiest, which one I'd choose if, say, the Clark Art Institute lost its mind and had a yard sale.
I was frankly surprised (but very pleased) that a book publisher today would devote an entire book to, well, pretty teacups, but I'm so glad they did! And when I looked online, I was tickled to find a Chronicle Books blog post about the design process for the cover, which I think is simply splendid. If you'd like to see the other covers that were in the running click here, and you can also see some of the interior pages from the book. I highly recommend "A Teacup Collection" and think you'll enjoy perusing its charming pages with a cup of your favorite tea nearby!