A Chinoiserie style coffee pot
Chinoiserie, meaning “Chinese-style”, refers to an artistic theme with Chinese influences. It occurs in most European art forms at various periods since the 17th century. Generally it is characterised by fanciful and sometimes stereotypical mages of an imaginary China, presented in a slightly whimsical manner. One can see Chinoiserie in art, architecture, interior decoration and, of course, silver!
Its popularity in Ireland reached its peak in the mid-eighteenth century; there was great interest in China at the time, and Chinese designs were considered the height of good taste. This manifested itself in the designs and patterns we can see on some silver from that era. While Chinese art can be both incredibly intricate or amazingly understated, in Georgian silver we tend to see the more ornate designs.
The piece below is a wonderful coffee pot, circa 1755. It was made by William Townsend, one of our finest silversmiths.
As you scroll through the photos, we can see a Chinese lady in front of a pagoda, a mandarin in flowing cloak, a fenghuang bird, and a small Chinese boy dancing.
William Townsend worked on Fishamble street, and rose to the post of Assay Master in the 1770s. His work is typically of very high quality, of good gauge and excellently executed. His maker’s mark was a WT, see below.