Almost nothing of Henry VIII’s vast holdings of precious gold and silver plate remains. But a rich trail of documentation survives and paints a surprisingly vivid picture of his magnificent state banquets that were intended to impress and to entertain in equal measure.
Image: Hans Holbein the Younger, Design for a jewelled cup and cover, circa 1535.
Europe in the mid eighteenth century was gripped by an insatiable appetite for knowledge, exploration and discovery that was to spearhead the Age of Enlightenment. Science and Nature became the pinnacle of taste and fashion amongst the ruling classes who filled their homes with functional objects, shapes and forms derived from God’s creation. The lecture will show how the early English Porcelain Manufactories produced a series of highly naturalistic Marine shapes and forms for use on the dining tables of Royal and Aristocratic homes of the period.
Image: Chelsea Crayfish Salt, Incised Triangle period circa 1745-49
Using recently discovered evidence, food historian Ivan Day will guide us through the surprisingly sophisticated and often eccentric dining culture of the English provinces.
Image: 18th Century sugar seashell confectionery.
Dr. phil. Claudia Lehner-Jobst
Celebrating the 300th birthday of Maria Theresa (1717–1780), this lecture focuses on pragmatic reforms and a novel wish for privacy at table in times of political controversy. From her "table de conspiration“ in the Chinese cabinet at Schönbrunn, past gallant garden lunches and pilgrimage dinners, including champagne and "Kaisersemmel“, to all-night carnival festivities, dining in mid 18th century Vienna became an adjustable affair.
Image: Contemporary vision of a birthday table for Maria Theresia in the imperial dining room at Stift Klosterneuburg, Lower Austria. Concept and design: Claudia Lehner-Jobst/ Sebastian Menschhorn. Photo: Sebastian Menschhorn, Vienna.
The great silver-gilt dining service amassed by George IV over his lifetime, was described by contemporaries as 'unrivalled in Europe' and 'a magnificent exhibition of taste and expense'. This talk will discuss some of the elements of the Grand Service, created by the most sought-after designers of the period, and how it remains in use on the royal table to this day.
Image: Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017
Professor Timothy Wilson
Around 1500 Italian maiolica potters created what was essentially a new form of Renaissance art, painted pottery which at times rivalled easel-painting and fresco. But were the maiolica services commissioned by some of the wealthiest and most discriminating patrons of the day just for display or were they regularly used? The lecture will examine this vexed question.
Image: Jupiter and Semele, from the set made by Nicola da Urbino as a present from Eleonora, Duchess of Urbino, to her mother Isabella d'Este, 1524. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
The years between 1800 and 1900 saw major developments in European ceramic production and the types of services used for dining. This lecture will showcase the V&A’s rich collection of ceramic table services, made by factories from Sèvres to Stoke-on-Trent, to explore the wide ranging design styles of the nineteenth century.
Image: Tureen, ‘Felspar’ porcelain, made by Spode’s factory, Stoke-on-Trent, about 1820. Museum no. 586 to B-1902. Given by Miss H.M. Gulson. Photo ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Dame Rosalind Savill
Louis XV commissioned his first dinner service from Vincennes/Sèvres in 1751 and most of these ingenious rococo shapes remained in use until the French Revolution. Intended for the savoury and dessert services, and often responding to new dining fashions in France, more than forty forms were invented. The functions of individual pieces at the dining table will be explored, together with models intended for the more intimate spaces of the bedroom and boudoir.
Image: Lemon juice pot and plateau, Sèvres soft-paste porcelain, 1792, painted by Charles-Nicolas Dodin. Made for Louis XVI and now in the collection of the Earl of Harewood at Harewood House, Yorkshire.
Dr. Katharina Hantschmann
Among the most delightful porcelain figures for the dessert table are those modelled by the mysterious Franz Anton Bustelli for the Bavarian court factory, later situated in Nymphenburg. His works are expressive, full of grace and humour and show little influence by engravings. But some impact of Meissen cannot be denied.
Image: Dottore from Franz Anton Bustelli’s Commedia dell’arte-table decoration, Nymphenburg porcelain manufactory, 1765 c. © Bayerisches Nationalmuseum München
Patricia F. Ferguson
Elaborate porcelain temples were often used as centrepieces on the dessert table of Royal European weddings, such as the celebrated 'Temple of Fame' (Ehrentempel), 1750, now in the Porzellansammlung, in Dresden, which has a fascinating English provenance. This talk surveys many of these triumphal temples and their surprising later histories.
Image: Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, photo: Jürgen Karpinski
Dr. Melitta Kunze-Koellensperger
Count Heinrich von Brühl (1700 – 1763) laid the basis for the table centrepiece known as the "Dutch Village of Meissen porcelain“, when he ordered the palace, the church and several half-timbered farm houses in 1743. However, similar miniature architectures were also stored in the Court Confectionaries in Dresden, Warschau and Hubertusburg, but furthermore they were part of diplomatic gifts and highly in demand by the French clientele.
Image: Meissen model of a church, first modelled in 1743 by J.G. Ehder as decoration of the dessert table for Count Heinrich von Brühl
Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere
Japan has a rich history of ceramic production from 15,000 BCE to the present day. Recently washoku, Japanese traditional cuisine, has been given World Heritage status and designated as an intangible cultural asset. Japanese cuisine can be typified by its seasonal approach and its emphasis on dining as a cohesive experience, but that is indeed only part of the story. The aesthetics of Japanese dining revolve around the marriage of vessels to the food they contain. In other words, effective Japanese dining is an experience that engages the senses through a careful marriage of food to vessel. This talk highlights through different periods in history how Japanese dining evolved as a marriage of form and function.
Image: Dish with design of hare and crescent moon, porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue oxide. Nabeshima ware, c.1700-1750, Saga domain Okawachi kiln, Japan, Franks.1292+, British Museum. ©Trustees of the British Museum
Willem V was the last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic in the second half of the 18th century, a period characterised by the divide between his supporters the Orangists and the opposing Patriots. This talk will explore the table settings and decorations from this time in Dutch history when politial colour manifested itself on the dining table.
Dr David Mitchell
During the fifteenth century, the drawloom, which had been used for centuries in the East to weave silk damasks, was modified in the Low Countries to produce linen damasks. Early in the sixteenth century, a number of intricate designs were made in either Mechelen or Kortrijk for elite customers, including Henry VIII. Several of these pieces have features that are early examples of the Northern Renaissance.