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Chelsea tableware

All this porcelain, made at the Chelsea factory in London, features accurately reproduced botanical specimens. Although it is not known for certain where the factory’s ceramic painters obtained their inspiration, the easiest access to fresh and dried botanical samples was the nearby Chelsea Physic Garden. However, some of the insects are depicted in such fantastic colours that they must have been the invention of the factory’s painters. The tureens were intended to enliven a dessert course. They take the forms of fruit and vegetables that would have been particularly exotic and expensive to grow. Though prototypes for this botanical ware could be found in Meissen porcelain and in contemporary silver, the range, ingenuity and accuracy of Chelsea’s playful pieces were unprecedented.