This video was created for LaunchPad, a program of digital interpretive materials that supplement the viewing of works of art on display in the Art Institute of Chicago’s galleries.
Artist Yuki Nyhan demonstrates the intricate process of painting on porcelain. Using delicate brushstrokes and a steady hand, she demonstrates how the enamel colors are individually layered according to the temperature at which each will be fired—the gilding on the finial, for example, is applied last, as it would otherwise burn at the higher temperatures required for firing purple and green.
Oil or Vinegar Cruet
Date: c. 1737 Artist: Meissen Porcelain Manufactory German, founded 1710 Modeled by: Johann Joachim Kändler (German, 1706-1775, active at Meissen, 1731-1775)
Worcester Royal Porcelain Company ‘Aesthetic’ Teapot and Cover, circa 1882, Designed by James Hadley. English glazed, enameled and gilded Parian ware. Height: 6 1/4 inches.
Art Institute of Chicago, Eloise W. Martin Acquisition Fund; restricted gift of Maureen Savaiano, Jamie Maloney, Mr. and Mrs. James Knox, and Mr. and Mrs. Terry Parucca. Reference no. 2010.273.
Note: The base of the teapot is inscribed: “Fearful Consequences Through the Laws of Natural Selection & Evolution of Living up to One’s Teapot” — an allusion to both Charles Darwin and Oscar Wilde, who as an Oxford University student, claimed: “I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.”