Highly Unusual Four-Piece Silver Tea & Coffee Set
height of teapot: 19cm, weight: 479g
height of coffee pot: 17.5cm, weight: 387g
combined weight of all four pieces: 1,281g
This splendid, jewel-like tea service comprises a teapot, a coffee pot (or hot water jug), a creamer and a sugar bowl. Each piece is finely chased in a typically Calcutta style with Indian village scenes with plenty of native figures with animals amid copious shrubbery – indeed the work is among the finest that we have seen on Calcutta silverwork.
The teapot and coffee pot are fitted with hinged lids with flute-playing Krishna finials, and have the original ivory insulators in the silver handles.
Each has handles cast as winged dragons. This appears to be almost unique amongst colonial Indian silver. Possibly the dragons show Chinese influence. But it is equally possible that they are based on Celtic mythology with the silversmith having drawn his inspiration from engravings sent from Europe.
Each piece stands on a flared ring foot, and each piece is of good weight and is heavy in the hand.
According to Dehejia (2008, p, 185) the Calcutta style of silverwork developed towards the end of the nineteenth century in Bhowanipore, a district of Calcutta. Scenes of rural and village life are the typical motifs employed.
The set is of solid, high-grade silver, and is without dents, splits, losses or repairs.
UK art market; and previously from an old UK collection.
Dehejia, V., Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj, Mapin, 2008.
Inventory no.: 1556