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Art Curatorial

Chipstone’s Resident Biophysicist: Professor Temple Burling, Part 2

Tea bowl, John Bartlam,  1765-1769. Chipstone Foundation. Photo by Gavin Ashworth.
Tea bowl, John Bartlam, 1765-1769. Chipstone Foundation. Photo by Gavin Ashworth.
The Chipstone Foundation’s previous post introduced you to Temple Burling, our resident biophysicist. This post continues his story as he recounts his experience with a blue and white teabowl in Chipstone’s collection.

At the end of my last post, I found myself asking: “How did a porcelain tea-cup with an Asian inspired shape and decorative scheme come to be made in eighteenth-century America?”

This cup is a container for tea, but, as it turns out, the cup also overflows with wonderful stories that partially answer this question. These stories combine science, history, technology, commerce, and cultural exchange, making the cup a slice of a long and fascinating history of porcelain–from its invention in China in the 7th century, to the mania for porcelain collecting by European aristocrats beginning in the Renaissance and exploding during the 18th century.