Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Cup and saucer

  • Place of origin:

    Chelsea (made)

  • Date:

    1759-1769 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Chelsea Porcelain factory (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain, painted in colours and decorated in gilding

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Miss Emily S. Thomson

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52b, case 1 []

Object Type
This cup and saucer are from a tea and coffee service for six people. Tea was generally drunk from handle-less tea bowls of the Chinese type during the early 18th century, but handled teacups were made in Britain by the 1740s. These were more costly to make than tea bowls, and they didn't pack tightly together for carriage to distant markets. Both types were in common use by the time this service was made. Teacups were usually slightly lower and had a wider rim than coffee cups, possibly because the smell of tea is better appreciated if drunk from an open bowl. Satirical prints of the years around 1800 occasionally show tea being drunk from the saucer, but it is clear that this was not done in polite company. Afternoon and after-dinner tea were generally served by the lady of the house in the drawing room in comfortably-off households.

Design & Designing
The service is similar to one offered at auction in London in 1770. This was described as 'a very curious and matchless tea and coffee equipage, crimson and gold, most inimitably enamell'd in figures, from the designs of Watteau'. Although the figure subjects here are not directly copied from the work of the French Rococo painter Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721), they are certainly inspired by his work.

Place of Origin

Chelsea (made)


1759-1769 (made)


Chelsea Porcelain factory (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Porcelain, painted in colours and decorated in gilding

Object history note

From tea set - museum nos. 517 to 523-1902

Descriptive line

Cup and saucer from a tea set, porcelain, Chelsea Porcelain factory, London, 1759-1769

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This English porcelain tea service is typical of those used in wealthier households during the 18th century. It consists of a teapot and stand, cups and saucers, a milk jug, a bowl for sugar and a dish for the tea dregs called a slop basin. [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted

Figures; Satire


Ceramics; Porcelain; Tableware & cutlery; Drinking; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares; British Galleries


Ceramics Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.