Joseph Van Aken
An English Family at Tea c.1720

Artwork details

Joseph Van Aken c.1699–1749
An English Family at Tea
Date c.1720
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 994 x 1162 mm
frame: 1245 x 1405 x 120 mm
Acquisition Presented by Lionel A. Crichton through the Art Fund 1930
Not on display

Display caption

This group portrait of an unidentified family and their servants was probably painted soon after Van Aken moved from his native Antwerp to London. Tea was an expensive commodity, as were all the items related to its consumption: the tea table, silver, and porcelain. The tea box is shown in the foreground. Its contents were normally kept locked by the lady of the household, who is shown dispensing the precious leaves from a container.

Demonstrating wealth, domesticity and genteel informality, tea-drinking came to epitomise civilised behaviour in the eighteenth century.

August 2004

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