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Detail showing Queen Victoria drinking tea at a Buckingham Palace Garden party

Serving and sipping a favourite beverage

? Paris Porcelain Factories

Veilleuse nineteenth century

RCIN 36057

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Concealing a burner to keep the tea warm, the base of this veilleuse commemorates the first giraffe to set foot on French shores. In 1826 Mohammed Ali of Egypt sent the calf to Charles X as a gift, having learned that the French monarch wanted to enrich his royal menagerie. A similar offering was also made to George IV. 

On the journey from Alexandria to Marseille, the giraffe was accompanied by two handlers, three milk cows to provide sustenance, and two antelopes for company. Her arrival in France caused a sensation. Streets and taverns were renamed after her, and a hairstyle ‘à la Girafe’ was born. Such was the appeal that the giraffe became a popular subject for print sellers and was reproduced in a wide variety of media: as giraffe-shaped gingerbread biscuits, on paperweights, bags, textiles, wall coverings and ceramics.