Elizabeth Dysart had a thirst for all things cutting-edge and exotic. This included food and drink. Tea was only just being introduced to Britain in the late 17th Century; naturally Elizabeth was an early enthusiast, even investing in the correct equipment for tea drinking. We believe this to be one of the earliest teapots to arrive in England.
Chinese white porcelain teapot, of globular form, with a square spout and a crackled glaze, Zhangzhou ware, c. 1650-1670, mounted in engraved silver-gilt, probably in England, c.1660-80.
The exceedingly rare Zhangzhou white ware, made in Fujian province, was not intended for export and this teapot must have come to Europe as private trade via a member of the English or Dutch East India Company. Its distinctive crackled glaze is the result of underfiring. It may have been among the ‘5 China Tea Pots and India Figures’ listed in 1728, or the ‘Twenty-seven curious tea pots of various manufacture’ recorded in the 1844 inventory. It is first identifiable in the 1911 inventory as ‘Old Caladon [sic] Teapot with Silver Gilt mountes on lid, Spout & Base £5.0.0’ in the cabinet with the Iznik jug, and in 1930 appears as ‘A Chinese Ko Ware Teapot mounted with late 17th century English silver gilt 50.0.0’.
By repute owned by Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart and later Countess and Duchess of Lauderdale (1626-1698), and thence by descent at Ham House; sold by Sir Lyonel Tollemache, 4th Bt. (1854-1952) to Ronald Lee in the late 1940s; presented by Ronald Lee to the National Trust via the Art Fund (then called the National Art Collections Fund) in memory of his wife Betty, 1994 (together with a Chinese porcelain chamber pot, inv. 1139005).