Henry Cole Tea Service thumbnail 1
Henry Cole Tea Service thumbnail 2
+2
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 122

Henry Cole Tea Service

Teapot
1846 (designed), 1846-1871 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This teapot is from a service designed by Henry Cole (1808-1882) in 1846, which was subsequently produced for his own Felix Summerly's Art Manufactures. It is an example of early Victorian design especially promoted by Cole, in which the decoration describes the function of the object. The teapot spout is in the form of a medieval water spout, and yet the forms, incongruously enough, were based on Cole's studies of Greek pottery in the British Museum.

Historic Associations
In response to the Society of Arts' offer, made in 1845, of a prize for designs for a tea service, Henry Cole (under the pseudonym Felix Summerly) produced a design that was executed by Minton. This won a silver medal in the competition held in 1846 and the experience led Cole to believe that it would 'promote public taste' if well-known painters and sculptors could be persuaded to produce designs for manufactured articles for everyday use. Accordingly, in 1847 he founded 'Summerly's Art Manufactures', which lasted for about three years, until Cole's preoccupation with the Great Exhibition of 1851 brought it to an end. However, for some years afterwards individual firms continued to produce objects originally made for Summerly's Art Manufactures.

Design
In 1847 Henry Cole noted that 'RR [Richard Redgrave] and Bell [John Bell] thought Artists ought not to design for Manufacturers: apart from Art Manufactures'. But later Redgrave himself observed that fine artists were actually to blame for committing the prime error, which was 'rather to construct ornament than ornament construction'. The separate parts of the tea service designed by Cole himself remained in production for some years, the cup especially. It was given the factory code of FS (for Felix Summerly) and became a Minton standard. It continued to be made into the 20th century, often decorated with patterns.

People
Henry Cole was a close friend of Herbert Minton and persuaded him to make the service he had designed to enter the Society of Arts' competition.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Teapot
  • Cover
Additional Titles
  • Oxford (manufacturer's title)
  • FS (manufacturer's title)
Materials and Techniques
Earthenware
Brief Description
Earthenware teapot. British (Stoke-on-Trent), 1846-1871. Part of a service designed by Henry Cole for the Society of Arts in 1846 and manufactured by Minton's.
Physical Description
Rounded body, with cylindrical top. The short spout ends in a lion's head, the loop handle is in the form of a vine branch with leaves at the lower end and a goat's head at the top. On the cover there is a ram's head surrounded by vine-leaves.
Dimensions
  • Teapot and cover height: 15.7cm
  • Teapot width: 21.2cm (Note: including handle and spout)
  • Teapot depth: 14.7cm
Dimensions checked: Measured; 19/07/1999 by Terry
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'Society of Arts Prize Pattern Minton & Co. Staffordshire' within a buckled belt around 'FS [in monogram] 1846 invt.' in red. (Makers marks; UNKNOWN; printing; Minton; 1846 - 1871)
  • 'BB' (UNKNOWN; impressing; Minton; 1846 - 1871)
  • '10' (UNKNOWN; impressing; Minton; 1846 - 1871)
Gallery Label
British Galleries: This service was Henry Cole's earliest attempt to demonstrate by example how good design could be combined with modern manufacture. He designed it under the assumed name of Felix Summerly, 'to obtain as much beauty and ornament as is commensurate with cheapness'. It was awarded a Silver Medal by the Society of Arts and was admired by Prince Albert. Following this success, Cole founded Felix Summerly's Art Manufactures to develop further designs.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Transferred from the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street
Object history
Given by the Society of Arts in 1871. Transferred from the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street.



Designed by Sir Henry Cole (born in Bath, 1802, died in London, 1882) for Felix Summerly's Art Manufactures; made by Minton & Co., Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire



Historical significance: Henry Cole, first director of the South Kensington Museum and an early campaigner for the improvement of British Design, designed the tea service under the assumed name of Felix Summerly. Cole's aim was 'to obtain as much beauty and ornament as is comensurate with cheapness'. The design was based upon historical precedents combined with a concern for manufacturing techniques and utility. Cole paid particular attention to the application of ornament so that it did not interfere with the simplicity of outline of his design. The handles, in the form of vines, were derived from exmples of Greek earthenware in the British Museum, this form of ornament was simple and cheap to produce and did not in any way inhibit the function of the object. The service was awarded a silver medal by the Society of Arts, admired by the Prince Consort and sold in large numbers. This success encouraged Cole to found Summerly's Art Manufactures in order to commission designs for functional and attractive household objects from well-known artists for commercial production.
Historical context
Although it is said that the Henry Cole Tea Service was produced in large numbers into the 1890s this seems to refer only to the cups and saucers, as very few teapots survive.
Summary
Object Type
This teapot is from a service designed by Henry Cole (1808-1882) in 1846, which was subsequently produced for his own Felix Summerly's Art Manufactures. It is an example of early Victorian design especially promoted by Cole, in which the decoration describes the function of the object. The teapot spout is in the form of a medieval water spout, and yet the forms, incongruously enough, were based on Cole's studies of Greek pottery in the British Museum.

Historic Associations
In response to the Society of Arts' offer, made in 1845, of a prize for designs for a tea service, Henry Cole (under the pseudonym Felix Summerly) produced a design that was executed by Minton. This won a silver medal in the competition held in 1846 and the experience led Cole to believe that it would 'promote public taste' if well-known painters and sculptors could be persuaded to produce designs for manufactured articles for everyday use. Accordingly, in 1847 he founded 'Summerly's Art Manufactures', which lasted for about three years, until Cole's preoccupation with the Great Exhibition of 1851 brought it to an end. However, for some years afterwards individual firms continued to produce objects originally made for Summerly's Art Manufactures.

Design
In 1847 Henry Cole noted that 'RR [Richard Redgrave] and Bell [John Bell] thought Artists ought not to design for Manufacturers: apart from Art Manufactures'. But later Redgrave himself observed that fine artists were actually to blame for committing the prime error, which was 'rather to construct ornament than ornament construction'. The separate parts of the tea service designed by Cole himself remained in production for some years, the cup especially. It was given the factory code of FS (for Felix Summerly) and became a Minton standard. It continued to be made into the 20th century, often decorated with patterns.

People
Henry Cole was a close friend of Herbert Minton and persuaded him to make the service he had designed to enter the Society of Arts' competition.
Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • Atterbury, Paul and Maureen Batkin. The Dictionary of Minton. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club, 1990. pp.201, 260.
  • Jones, Joan. Minton: The First Two Hundred Years of Design and Production. Shrewsbury: Swan Hill Press, 1993. pp.43-48, 75.
  • Bryant, Julius. Art and Design for all: The Victoria and Albert Museum . London: V&A publishing, 2011. p 112. ISBN 978 1 85177 666 5
  • Jervis, Simon, Victorian and Edwardian decorative art: the Handley-Read collection, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1972
Collection
Accession Number
2741&A-1901

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJune 23, 1998
Record URL