This autumn at Rienzi, Isla’s Gallery features Comfort and the Eighteenth-Century Interior. Highlighting 18th-century decorative arts and material culture, the exhibition seeks to communicate how design could improve people’s lives, both emotionally and physically, by making them more comfortable.
The development of “white gold,” or porcelain, in the 18th century naturally figures into the concept of comfort. Although the material was valued for its durability and its even coloring, owning porcelain became a way for individuals to show off wealth through luxuriously decorated tea and dinner services. However, the medium was not solely reserved for table settings. Four objects in the exhibition take the idea of luxury in the form of porcelain a step further, using the expensive material to create a comfortable environment by bringing the fresh scents of the outdoors inside. In the 18th century, modern life was still developing and there was a desire—and need—to make the stale indoor air easier to breathe.
For example, Worcester Porcelain Manufactory's Pair of Bough Pots, from about 1770, are soft-paste porcelain vessels made to display cut flowers. They feature a dark blue and white ground, with flora and fauna decorations. The pots, whether attached to the wall or placed about a room, harness the outdoors for the inside for a sensory experience.
Two more porcelain objects, Potpourri by Königliche Porzellan Manufaktur from about 1770, and a Potpourri and Cover, created by Worcester Porcelain Manufactory between 1765 and 1770, also use the expensive medium to make the air more comfortable. The pierced and covered objects were made to hold dried flowers, herbs, and cloves that had been cured in the sun with salt. The potpourri vessels allowed the scented mixtures to perfume the air.
Stop by Rienzi to check out these luxurious porcelain objects, produced to make the 18th-century indoor air and atmosphere more comfortable.