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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

English, established 1751
Dry Mustard Pot
c. 1758
Soft-paste porcelain

5 1/8 x 2 1/8 x 2 1/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

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

Arts of Europe

Locally produced mustard was a popular staple in 18th-century English households. Many porcelain factories produced dry-mustard pots for storage and service at the dining table, and the Rienzi Collection contains a rare example made by Worcester Porcelain Manufactory, which paired the dry-mustard pot form with Asian decoration.

For much of its history, London was the center of England's spice trade, supplying both rare and common spices for the upper and middle classes. Beginning in the early 1400s, mustard could be produced locally rather than being imported, and it became one of the least expensive and most widely available spices. Worcester and other porcelain factories responded by making mustard pots. This pot features asymmetrically scrolling vines and flowers rendered in a Chinese color palette called famille rose, and the lid is decorated with a flying stork, the Chinese symbol of longevity.