Teapot Adorned with Scenes of Rural Life
Grish Chunder Dutt, Indian, active late 19th - early 20th century
Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), in the eastern Indian region of Bengal, long served as the British colonial capital. For most of the nineteenth century, silversmiths in Kolkata catered to British tastes, producing wares with simple lines and minimal embellishment. However, in the months leading up to the great Calcutta International Exhibition of 1883, a community of artisans pioneered a new type of luxury silverware covered with detailed depictions of rural scenes and festivals. This design shift may have been driven by a desire to fashion a more distinctly recognizable mode of silverware for the global market. Ironically, these images were largely inspired by paintings and photographs produced by British travelers to the region, displaying an idealized view of village life that fused the pastoral with the exotic. In this teapot, an “exotic” cobra wraps around the handle above a body covered in peaceful rural scenes.