Object in Focus

Swedish Faience Tray with English Fashion Caricature







Prepared by: Patrik Steorn, Centre for Fashion Studies, University of Stockholm

This faience tray from the collections of the National Museum of Fine Arts in Stockholm, was made in Sweden in 1772, decorated with the motif of an English fashion caricature entitled ‘Ridiculous Taste or the Ladies Absurdity’.

The image is ‘after’ an etching with engraving produced by the London print-sellers and makers Matthew and Mary Darly in July 1771 (“Ridiculous Taste or the Ladies’ Absurdities”, 1771, first edition. Lewis Walpole Library, Yale).

The Swedish decorative painter Erik Borg translated the scene from a paper print to a hand-painted faience tray at the Swedish manufacturer Marieberg in Stockholm, which was one of the more creative of the ceramic producers in eighteenth-century Sweden. See: Hernmarck, Carl: Marieberg. En lysande representant för svenskt sjuttonhundratal, Stockholm: Wahlström och Widstrand, 1946, p.194 and Marieberg 1758-1788, (ed. Carl Hernmarck & Bo Gyllensvärd) exhibit. cat. Nationalmuseum, Stockholm 1945, p.5-11).

Due to its shape and motif this tray can be considered a type of ‘conversation piece’, a part of social life organized around drinking tea, coffee or chocolate in private or public meeting places.

Read here the full version of the paper.

Related material:

“Jew as Other” Web exhibition on the stereotyped representation of Jewish people in 18th Century British caricature by Library at the Theological Seminary, New York.

“Ridiculous Taste or the Ladies’ Absurdities”, 1771, coloured. British Museum, London.

“Ridiculous Taste or the Ladies’ Absurdities”, 1771, first edition. Lewis Walpole Library, Yale.

“Preposterous Headdresses and Feathered Ladies: Hair, Wigs, Barbers, and Hairdressers” Exhibition at Lewis Walpole Library, Yale, 2003.

National Costume by Gustaf III (in Swedish), Royal Armoury, Stockholm.

”A Courtesan & Frizeur”, print by M. Darly, 1772. British Museum, London.

Ridiculous Taste or the Ladies’ Absurdities”, 1771 (first edition), Courtesy of the Lewis Wilpole Library, Yale University.

Ridiculous Taste or the Ladies’ Absurdities”, 1771 (coloured), British Museum, London.

Oil painting on canvas, c1780, Kulturen, Lund.

Stockholms Posten 17 juli 1779

”A Courtesan & Frizeur”, print by M. Darly, 1772. British Museum, London.


Lindberg, Bo Ossian: ”Vård och konservering av konstverk i Kulturens samlingar”, Ur Kulturens gömmor – Bildkonst från 6 sekler utst. 24 maj – 27 sept 1987, Institutionen för konstvetenskap, Lunds universitet, Lund 1987.
Bergman, Eva: Nationella dräkten: en studie kring Gustaf III:s dräktreform 1778, Nordiska museet, Diss.,Stockholm, 1938.
Bringéus, Nils-Arvid: ”Giriga präster – modegalna fruntimmer. Några nidbilder med engelska förlagor” Kulturen, Lund: Kulturen i Lund, 1978.
Stråle, Gustaf Holdo: Mariebergs historia och tillverkningar 1758-1788, Stockholm: Ivar Haeggströms boktryckeri, 1880.

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