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A Family of Three at Tea

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1727 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Collins, Richard (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil painting

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Art Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52b, case 2 []

Object Type
When painting 'conversation pieces' (relaxed portraits of family groups or gatherings of friends), artists were expected not only to show their sitters in fine clothes, but would also be obliged to include valuable possessions, indicating their wealth and social status.

Subjects Depicted
The painter shows a fashionable family sitting around a tea table, obviously proud of their up-to-date and valuable silver and porcelain, and also of their knowledge of the correct manner of taking tea. The tea equipage is a typical one of the first half of the 18th century. It includes a sugar dish, a tea canister, sugar tongs, a hot-water jug, a spoon boat with teaspoons, a slop bowl and a teapot with a lamp beneath it to keep the contents hot.

Richard Collins (active 1726-1732) was trained under the Swedish-born, London-based portrait painter Michael Dahl (born about 1659; died 1743), and worked as a portrait painter in Leicester and Lincolnshire. A painting by Collins of the same family drinking tea called The Tea Party is at Goldsmiths' Hall, London. The V&A version is attributed to Collins because it is so similar.

Physical description

Oil painting in a carved and gilt wooden frame entitled 'A Family of Three at Tea'. They are all drinking tea from a fine tea service on the table. There is a small dog on the chair next to the mother also.

Place of Origin

Britain (made)


ca. 1727 (made)


Collins, Richard (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil painting

Object history note

Possibly painted in Leicestershire or Lincolnshire by Richard Collins (active 1726-1732)

Descriptive line

Anonymous oil painting in a carved and gilt wooden frame entitled 'A Family of Three at Tea', attributed to Richard Collins. Great Britain, ca. 1727.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria & Albert Museum Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design & Department of Paintings Accessions 1934 London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1935

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This early 18th-century painting shows a fashionable young family taking tea. They are drinking from porcelain tea bowls imported from China or Japan. The silver tea equipment includes a teapot with a lamp beneath it to keep the tea warm. [27/03/2003]


Oil colour



Subjects depicted

Bowls; Dog; Family; Drinking; Tea; Tea; Group portrait


British Galleries; Paintings; Portraits; Metalwork; Silver; Fashion; Women's clothes; Children & Childhood; Children's clothes; Men's clothes; Porcelain; Drinking


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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