14 June 2010

Catherine of Braganza and Charles II: The Custom of Drinking Tea in England

Tea was first imported to continental Europe from Asia in the sixteenth century. Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705) brought the Portuguese custom of drinking tea to England in 1662. The infanta who is shown in the portrait by the Dutch Baroque painter Dirck Stoop (1610-1686) married King Charles II of England and replaced wine, ale and spirits with tea as the court drink. Previously tea in England was reserved to apothecaries where it was sold for medicinal purposes or a few coffee houses, which were frequented by men only. Catherine made the beverage and its service pieces popular among women in England. Not only was tea carried on merchant ships from China but also porcelains for serving it. Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraten (1630-1700) was one of the Dutch painters who settled in London and specialized in “showy” still life’s that realistically depicted luxury objects. The painting above is attributed to his circle and displays a Chinese export teapot and cup. Another Dutch artist painted Charles as a young man; Adriaen Hanneman (1603-1671) was a part of the Dutch Golden Age and best known for his portraits of the exiled British royal court. The restored king was much more hedonistic than his reserved tea drinking queen, having twelve illegitimate children from seven different mistresses.

6 comments:

  1. The still life by one of Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraten's circle is a delight, the silver is beautifully done. Did you know that the z (short for zoon) at the end of Gerritsz means son? As in son of Gerrit? Anyway, lovely painting.

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  2. Thank you Blue~ It is always a delight to hear from you. I was unaware of the significance of the "z". Best to you and the Celt. Kendra

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  3. I have absolutely nothing against showy still lifes if they are done as well as the one by Gerritsz van Roestraten's circle! Funny how tea drinking ladies have fussy, uptight reputations. Is it the preciousness of all the lovely accessories? Seems tea is a ritual and coffee a habit - and alcohol- both!

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  4. le style et la matière ~ I think it is amusing to think of only men drinking tea initially in England discussing politics and business while the women were at home drinking wine, ale and spirits! Best, Kendra

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  5. Kendra, Just linked this post to my blog, where I have been looking at several tea stories & pots for the past few weeks. Thanks for this lovely addition. Barbara

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  6. Thank you Barbara~ It was your beautiful blog that inspired me to post about Catherine, Charles and tea. Best, Kendra

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