Monday, August 26, 2013

Obsession Number Six - 18th Century

Thomas Chippendale, Josiah Wedgwood and Hester Bateman are just three of the many names of individuals who made 18th century dining a work of art. First, I will have to admit that no one in my family was particularly interested in antique furniture or the  history of decorative arts, but even as a child I was enthralled by those things. I was fortunate enough to have older ladies who lived near me and owned beautiful things, which made their homes elegant and inviting. As a teen-ager, I had classes in home economics where we studied various furniture styles and none was more beautiful to me that the Chippendale style created in England by the very famous Thomas Chippendale. Oh, how I loved those ball and claw feet on chairs, the amazing Chinese Chippendale fretwork, and the block front chests!  The glorious color of the mahogany wood was so lovely.  I had fallen in love and it has lasted!

A few years ago, I found this picture on the internet of the high style of dining in the 18th century. The accompanying article written by Sarah Nichols of the Carnegie Museum of Art was full of fascinating information about the dining traditions of the people in the 1700s.  I am sorry to write that the photo is a little blurry, but I think you can see that the table is overflowing with food!

This post is an attempt to do an interpretation of that table - definitely, a scaled down version!

The first thing that I had to do to recreate the tablescape was to find appropriate dinner plates. Since I do not own, nor would ever own Canton china, I decided to use the Copeland Spode "Fitzhugh" pattern.  In an article written by Ann Gilbert (The Antique Detective) for the "Cincinnati Enquirer", she wrote that Fitzhugh is actually a name for a pattern of Chinese export dinnerware.  She speculated that the name arose, perhaps, from the Fitzhugh family having been the first to receive the china pattern or that the name is a mispronunciation of the Chinese city, Foochow. Either way, the pattern is definitely Chinese.  Of course, the Spode pieces are reproductions made between 1954 and, approximately, 1990.  Fitzhugh was made in blue, red, plum and green. I found my blue ones on eBay.

This is the mark on the back of the plates.

The tablecloth and napkins were the easiest part of decorating the table.  I had Ralph Lauren "Peyton" ones and the napkins were large like the ones in the inspirational photo - I rather like the way the napkins are folded in the picture.  I had never seen this fold previously.

Next, I tried to find glasses that were similar to the 18th Century ones.  Twisted stems and funnel shaped bowls were quite common at that time.  The glass holding the wine (2010 Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Riesling) is by an unknown maker and is the glass that I used on one of my Easter tables this year. I mentioned then that I had bought them for a post and never used them.  This is that post.  You can see the pretty bowl of the stemware much better in that Easter post seen HERE.

To imitate the smaller glasses holding water at each place setting, I chose French Picardie "Duralex" double old fashions.

While the twisted stems were one of the first purchases for this table, these little cordials were the last purchase made.  I found these on eBay, as well.  I had been looking for a while for ones with the correct shape and finally found them. I am not sure what is supposed to be in the cordials on the original table, but it was probably some sort of liqueur.  However, I used Jello in mine, so it would support the whipped cream, while I was photographing the table!  Not very 18th century!

While researching this post, I decided that the table was probably set for a fruit/dessert (?) course .  In the 18th century, high style meals consisted of three courses, one being dessert.  However,  each course could include, between five and twenty-five dishes! The ladies took at least an hour to ready themselves for dinner in the elaborate dress of the day - that is just for putting on their clothes. Can you imagine? It sounds positively exhausting!

The Carnegie Museum photo used two four-tier servers and two four light candelabra for the centerpiece. I changed both.  I used one three-tier server with summer fruits on it (pears, peaches and cherries) and two three-light candelabra.  Most of the silver on the table is silver plate with the exception of the bowl holding the plums - it is sterling.

Even the flatware is silverplate.  It is " American Chippendale" by International Silver.  I just could not resist the name!

The flat server holding the pineapple and the two small nut or bonbon bowls, which hold the raisins, are all Chippendale style pieces.

One thing that I did not try to recreate was the wonderful miniature "Folly" on the table.  I am sure that some of you clever bloggers would have managed that, but I just chose to ignore it!! Building a folly on one's property was all the rage in the 18th and 19th centuries, although, they had been built in the previous two centuries, as well.

This is a photo of a typical folly.  Just pretend that it is on the table - lol!!

I never really discussed two of my other favorite 18th century artisans - Josiah Wedgwood and Hester Bateman. Josiah Wedgwood is definitely an obsession of mine and will be featured in one of my "Obsession" posts.  Hester Bateman was an 18th century wife and mother who, eventually, became an expert silversmith. She was known as the "Queen" of silversmiths and this is an example of her beautiful work:

If you are interested in finding out more, about any of these 18th century geniuses, there are many books that have been written about them. I read a book about Hester Bateman many years ago, but I cannot remember the title. David Shure wrote a book, about her, but I have not read that one.  However, it is supposed to be the definitive book on her work.

We southerners do like historical homes and decor.  Eighteenth century pieces are my obsession - do you have a period of history that you love? The funny thing is (just between us - don't tell!!) is that I truly prefer modern art and I love to mix the two!

Please tell me your obsession, if you comment.  I would love to read all about it!


Sharing at:

A Stroll Thru Life for Inspire Me Tuesday

Cuisine Kathleen for Let's Dish

Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday

The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays


  1. Scaled down or not, this table looks fantastic and everything seems so delectable! Bring me back to that time please!!! Love it Diane!

  2. Diane,
    Once again, you have outdone yourself..(that's a funny expression, isn't it) as I wrote it, I thought whaaat?? oh well... I love all of the history you write. I am too lazy to do all the research..but thoroughly enjoy yours...I really like the mid century retro era..arts and craft is my favorite....but I am prone to throw in almost anything that catches my eye...ECLECTIC to the bone..that's me...
    love the post...Love, Mona

  3. Your Obsession table setting is stunning! I love everything Chippendale too and specially English, although I have an Italian dining furniture, I also love! You recreated your table perfectly with the gorgeous dishes, flatware and glasses. Thanks for sharing some history on this beautiful things, you just made me want to go and research some more. Like you, I was always enthralled to find out about antiques and antique furniture on my own too. Thanks for sharing; I loved it! Have a sweet week.

  4. A beautiful rendition of a lovely table setting. I have no space for the beautiful pieces you use to create your table settings. It would be fun to have a "dish room" to store everything.

  5. Wow, what an impressive table! I love how you recreated it...and I think I like yours better!!
    I think it's always fun to find an inspiration picture and then use what you have or go on treasure hunts to complete the look. It's a great feeling of satisfaction to make the inspiration "your own"...don't you think?
    Ok...I love the Victorian era...and then throw in a bit of causal rustic-ness and I'm a happy girl!
    As always, thanks for sharing and being such an inspiration yourself!

  6. This post is so much fun! I love how you have taken a very elaborate 18th Century table and made it your own. Dishes, flatware and glassware are all beautiful. I learned so much from your history lesson also! Love it!! Gorgeous!

  7. That post was fascinating! Your table looks so much like your inspiration picture! I love your chair and your china. I had no idea who Hester Bateman was, but I've already googled her and she'll probably become my next obsession. I share you obsession for Wedgwood.

  8. Oh my, this is a stunning tablescape. Love your inspiration and I am totally impressed with how much like it yours looks. Beautiful. Thanks for joining Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty

  9. I really enjoyed your is very informative. I love these items too and you recreated the inspiration table so well. I love Chippendale furniture too....Christine

  10. I adore your fabulous tablescape which you recreated from the Carneige Museum photograph! Your table is so fabulous with all the beautiful china, silver and crystal. The Spode Fitzhugh-blue is a lovely pattern of chinese design. Your crystal shapes are great adaptations and I appreciate you including all the different sources for these pieces. I fortunately have the coffee pot, teapot, creamer and sugar bowl in the Fitzhugh pattern and love the design for this a favorite in my tea set collection. Thanks for sharing this wonderful table and the lovely descriptions.


  11. Beautiful Post! Absolutely wonderful inspiration. Well done!

  12. It is hard to imagine dining like that, meals lasting for hours, multiple courses, and dressing up for a formal table~how much fun to recreate that, your table is beautiful!

  13. Diane, I enjoyed this post tremendously! Thank you for all the work you have done in sharing this with us. I, too, love the 18th century decor, especially Georgian style (like my home and the grand Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg.) Just think of all the servants who were necessary to put that table together, from polishing the silver to preparing the food! I can see why you couldn't resist the american chippendale. Linda

  14. This is absolutely stunning! I like your table better than the original. Love that blue and white china, and your twisted stemware is gorgeous. I really like that napkin fold too. I'm glad you didn't recreate the folly. It looks kind of out of place and in the way on that table. Your tiered server with fruit is perfect, and I love those candelabra. laurie

  15. Love this! What a great post you have put together for us. It's a little history lesson wrapped into a beautiful table. Thanks for sharing this!

  16. Diane, how beautiful. Your table is every bit as gorgeous as the one you copied. Your china and stemware is wonderful. I noticed the napkins right away!! So much information, wow, thanks. my obsession.. oh gosh Santa Fe? Yep that would be it. xo marlis

  17. Beautiful table! I love every detail and you have carried it out wonderfully.

  18. You had me at the title and your post was really beautiful. I love finding new places for inspiration and museum settings are a great idea!

  19. You had me at the title and your post was really beautiful. I love finding new places for inspiration and museum settings are a great idea!

  20. You have certainly outdone yourself by setting a lovely and inviting table - just stunning! Love the napkin fold, too!

  21. I love the 18th century and visited Williamsburg so often when I lived in Virginia. You did a great job of reflecting that era!

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

  22. Beautiful table. You really executed this table perfectly. Love the centerpiece and your candelabras. Oh heck, I love it all.

  23. Reisling???!!! My favorite!! I hope it's yours too! :) And now on to this FABULOUS post--the tables are both gorgeous, but that you would be able to duplicate the "inspiration" is amazing! And the research you've done--and kindly shared with us--is so enlightening, Diane! These tables remind me of the opulent tables from Williamsburg. I have two Williamsburg books that I adore. I do love that period, and I, too, love the Chippendale style. Thanks, Diane, for a truly wonderful post. Kudos to you! ~Zuni

  24. Reisling???!!! My favorite!! I hope it's yours too! :) And now on to this FABULOUS post--the tables are both gorgeous, but that you would be able to duplicate the "inspiration" is amazing! And the research you've done--and kindly shared with us--is so enlightening, Diane! These tables remind me of the opulent tables from Williamsburg. I have two Williamsburg books that I adore. I do love that period, and I, too, love the Chippendale style. Thanks, Diane, for a truly wonderful post. Kudos to you! ~Zuni

  25. Love those tiered fruit servers. The pineapple really looks tempting. You have done a marvelous job of taking the essence of an 18th century table setting and recreating it with all of your own touches. Love it.

  26. What a wonderful exercise in design. I adore the Spode Fitzhugh. I've been tempted several times to add a set to my collection. Now I'm inspired all over again! You and I might need to organize an Enablers Anonymous chapter. :-). Cherry Kay

  27. Hello Diane, I share your love for 18th furniture! You created a beautiful table setting with the Williamsburg style. Love your centerpiece and the candelabras, your flatware is gorgeous! Lovely post.........

    The French Hutch

  28. I absolutely loved reading your post--so very interesting. I think you did a great job recreating the table too.
    Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving your nice comment.

  29. What a beautiful table, and your interpretation is fabulous!
    Thanks so much for linking to Let's Dish!