The decoration of eighteenth-century teapots was derived
from numerous sources. Chinese prints inspired the relief-molded panels on
the hexagonal teapots on the right, while fascination with natural history
in the 1760s led to the popularity of cauliflower-shaped teapots like the
example seen here. Other teapots made political statements in the form of
slogans or portraits, as seen on the teapot here with an image of The King
of Prussia. Porcelain teapots imported from China, like the version on the
left painted to look like a pink lotus blossom, remained the most prestigious
and expensive option for English consumers.
Tea bowls, which were used for taking tea during most
of the eighteenth century, were modeled after porcelain imports from China.
By the time cups with handles gained popularity in the 1780s, tea was more
commonplace than exotic. The convenience of the handle outweighed the appeal
of the earlier Chinese form.