Ten for Tea

Begin Date2007-12-23
End Date2008-04-13
CuratorsKevin W. Tucker, Edwina Phillips (curatorial intern)
Last Harvested At2019-01-19
Credit LineThis exhibition was organized by the Dallas Museum of Art. Air transportation was provided by American Airlines.
OrganizerDallas Museum of Art
DescriptionSince the introduction of tea to the Western world in the 17th century, teapots and their accompaniments have remained objects of exploration for countless designers and craftspeople. Drawn largely from the Museum's collection, this exhibition presents a selection of ten modern tea services, each of which offers a dramatic new interpretation of this iconic domestic object. From China, England's East India Company brought black and green teas - along with tables, cups, saucers, and teapots - all intended to serve what was for decades an expensive luxury only affordable to the very wealthy. With this drink, fashionable people soon developed their own preferences and customs for the proper "taking of tea," including the additions of sugar and milk, which required new accompanying serving vessels; however, by the 19th century, with open markets, more efficient transport, and increased demand, both tea and coffee were widely available and established as the preferred hot beverages of Europe and the United States. The tea service was no longer an exclusive novelty but instead became a commonplace item within households of rich and poor alike. In the 20th century, the introduction of convenient teabags and the popularity of iced tea acknowledged the rapid pace of modern society, and marked a further erosion of the ritual surrounding tea drinking, making it an ever more casual, spontaneous experience. Even so, the tea service remains an alluring form for designer and consumer alike, inviting both to explore how the tension between modern object and nostalgia for traditional customs may meet in the preparation of a cup of tea. Ten for Tea presents a selection of tea and coffee services produced within the last century, highlighting recent acquisitions to the Museum's decorative arts and design collection. Other services and related works may be found within and adjacent to the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection galleries on Level 3 and within the Level 4 American Art Galleries.