This essay discusses the aesthetic, culinary, and social resonances of an eighteenth-century silver tureen in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum. Produced in the Paris workshop of Thomas Germain and probably owned by a Portuguese archbishop, the tureen is embellished with crustaceans and vegetables cast in part from nature. By linking the manipulation of silver to the transformative treatment of ingredients in eighteenth-century cuisine, and by reimagining the tureen’s visual effects and conversational potential in the context of a lavish, candle-lit banquet, the essay explores how this artful object would have simultaneously invited and resisted the attention of eighteenth-century diners.
Sipping a cup of chocolate while bathing in an elegantly decorated room might seem like the epitome of refined pleasure. In eighteenth-century Europe, however, both chocolate consumption and bathing were associated with danger as well as delight. Through a discussion of "The Bath," a 1774 print by the Swiss artist Sigmund Freudenberger, this essay considers how preoccupations with status, health, and sexuality shaped the meanings of two activities that were avidly cultivated as prestigious leisure pursuits and just as avidly contested as threats to the physiological and social order.