This silverplate tea set, striking in its simplicity, is the work of celebrated designer Christopher Dresser. Dresser first displayed his designs at the 1862 International Exhibition in London, where he was introduced to Japanese decorative objects. That influence is apparent in the minimalistic design and clean curves of this tea set. Modern lines and shapes were the hallmarks of Dresser’s works, and this set embodies his famed aesthetic.
The grouping includes a teapot, sugar bowl and cream jug, all comprised of a spherical, electroplated body and all displaying Dresser’s signature clean lines and streamlined structure. The teapot handle is made of ebony, while the other two pieces are formed solely of silverplate. Although made circa 1879, the set exudes modernity beyond its time, resembling designs that would become popular almost a century later.
Dresser made this set during his time with the firm of James Dixon and Sons, one of the leading British electroplate manufacturers of the Industrial Revolution. He also designed for several other prominent metal shops, such as Hukin & Heath and Elkington. Christopher Dresser was born in Glasgow, Scotland and attended the Schools of Design in London, a school dedicated to training students in creating designs specifically for industrial production. Machine manufacturing made household items more accessible to the general population in the late 19th century, creating opportunities for artisans to innovate in process and design. Dresser’s education led him to experiment in these realms, resulting in some of the most beautiful and visionary silverplate objects ever created.
Today, his works in silverplate are found in some of the most prestigious museums worldwide, including a similar teapot at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and a tea set at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London)
. Sets like the present one are featured prominently in Christopher Dresser: A Design Revolution by James Dixon, Christopher Dresser by Stuart Durant and Christopher Dresser by Widar Halen
Stamped “Ch. Dresser”
Teapot: 7 1/4“ diameter x 4 1/4” high
Creamer: 4 1/8“ diameter x 3” high
Sugar bowl: 3 3/8“ diameter x 2 3/4” high