TC146: A fine Regency penwork three compartment tea chest of complex classical shape decorated all over with fantastical scenes of exotic Cathay, inspired by tales of Royal gardens and the gardens of the Hong merchants which British traders and diplomats were allowed to visit whilst in Canton. Inside there are two lift out tea canisters and a bowl with cut and engraved decoration.
The figures and landscapes have a light element, which was introduced in the second part of the 18th century, but which did not find true expression in England until the advent of penwork. Much of the design is inspired by Mathias Darly's and George Edwards' A New Book of Chinese Designs. For example, the book gives illustrations of "Indian" islands, bits of land somehow floating in the universe. Such islands were earthly manifestations of the "Islands of the Blessed".
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