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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
Take a tour through some of the most significant objects in the MFAH collections. On these pages, you can browse 100 highlights from collections throughout the institution. Then visit the Museum in person to discover your own favorites.
English, established 1751
Punch Pot and Cover
c. 1765
Soft-paste porcelain

8 3/4 x 12 x 7 5/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Rienzi Collection
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris Masterson III

Arts of Europe

With the refinement of an 18th-century teapot but twice the size, this hand-painted Punch Pot was made for serving alcoholic punch, a beverage that became available in England in the 1650s and was enjoyed by everyone from the working class to aristocratic elite. It was almost always a drink to share. Combining spirits, fruit, sugar, spices, and water, the punch varied in alcohol strength and was served from a range of vessels. A common earlier form was the punch bowl, from which individual cups were ladled.

The Worcester Porcelain Manufactory's Punch Pot, by contrast, was one piece of a rarified table service. Punch pots were similar in design to oversized teapots but lacked the strainer at the base of the spout. This example is particularly sophisticated, with strong graphic panels depicting Japanese-style flowers and vibrantly colored birds. Often referred to as “fancy birds,” they are a motif based on examples from Sèvres, the royal porcelain manufactory of France. The graphic panels are set off by the brilliant “blue-scale” background, a coloring technique Worcester invented by layering glaze to create a deep blue ground, resembling fish scales.