Illustrated lecture on centuries-old dining and court culture set

Pieces of this variety will be a highlight of the new show being presented at the Bruce Museum. — Susan Einstein photo

Pieces of this variety will be a highlight of the new show being presented at the Bruce Museum.
— Susan Einstein photo

You won’t want to miss the illustrated lecture Of Cabbages & Kings: Horticulture, Gastronomy & the Transformation of the French Table, to take place at the Bruce Museum on Monday, April 8, beginning at 1 p.m.

This is the Phyllis Simons Memorial Lecture, given by Meredith Chilton, a well-known specialist in ceramic history, dining and court culture of the 17th and 18th centuries. She will showcase French faïence, as well as soft-paste and hard-paste porcelain, in the context of royal dining practices.

In 17th century France the dessert course was usually served on porcelain or faïence made to look like porcelain. For grand dinners, huge pyramids of fresh pears, peaches or apricots, compotes of plums or little sweet biscuits, confections and nuts were placed on dishes and laid on the table in bold symmetrical patterns. The aim was to dazzle the company by a theatrical display of wealth, taste and abundance. In the early 18th century many other ceramic elements were introduced to the table, and by the middle of the century, porcelain dinner services were being made at Vincennes, the royal manufactory.

Ms. Chilton, the founding curator in 1983 of the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and its director from 1984 to 2004, is an independent art historian. Her academic specialties of 17th and 18th century English and European ceramics, cultural history and court culture, including theater, food and dining, have led to her reputation as an exuberant and knowledgeable speaker, writer and curator. The lecture will be based on her work with the collection of French ceramics of MaryLou Boone, a collector and philanthropist from Pasadena, Calif.

The Boone collection spans the reigns of some of France’s most fascinating kings, from Louis XIV to his ill-fated great-great grandson, Louis XVI, who was executed by his people in 1793. However, the collection is not one of royal vases and princely gifts, but rather of wares for dining and taking tea, of porcelain frivolities and of ceramics for the sickroom and the pharmacy.

This lecture is part of an educational series, established by the Connecticut Ceramics Study Circle. Each lecture is given by a well-regarded expert in a field of ceramics. The lecture fee for non-members is $20. It is not necessary to make a reservation. As always, refreshments are included and served following all presentations.

For information call 914-921-0621 or e-mail [email protected]

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