On the third day of Christmas the 1862 Committee gave to me… three French Hens
The 1862 International Exhibition was a space of rivalry as much as celebration. Each country considered the event as a competition; a platform on which they could display the sophistication of their design and production processes. Rivalry between Britain and France was particularly heated. This coffee pot, inspired in design by the form of an elephant (very different from a hen we know, but we’re three days in and the Christmas cheer is taking its toll!), was made by the French national ceramic Sèvres factory. This oriental themed piece of porcelain, decorated with hints of gilt, perfectly displays the opulence the Sèvres factory became renowned for – and which the French were all too happy to show off in South Kensington in 1862.
© Helen Cresswell and Ruth Mason, 2013