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.
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!
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