The Luxury of Tea and Coffee, Chinese Export Porcelain, Highlights from the Shirley M. Mueller Collection
Patrick O’Reilly and Elizabeth Gilbert Fortune Gallery
This installation of Chinese export porcelain focuses not on ceramics that the Chinese made for themselves but products that they made exclusively for foreign markets. The theme is tea and coffee wares from the Shirley M. Mueller Collection, one of the premier private holdings in the United States.
Tea and coffee were initially considered as medicines and luxurious delicacies. They were imported to Europe at great cost and effort from Asia and Africa respectively. Both became an integral part of the fascination with the exotic in sophisticated Western societies.
This installation succinctly shows what part Chinese export teapots and coffee pots played in a complex scenario that evolved in the 17th and 18th centuries. It also illustrates, once again, the dynamic and prolific interaction between Asia and the West over centuries.