Tea Infuser and Strainer

Marianne Brandt (German, Chemnitz 1893–1984 Kirchberg)
ca. 1924
Silver and ebony
H. 2-7/8 in. (7.3 cm)
Credit Line:
The Beatrice G. Warren and Leila W. Redstone Fund, 2000
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 903
During its brief existence (1919-33) the Bauhaus produced a group of architects and designers whose work profoundly influenced the visual environment of the twentieth century. These men and women believed that everyday objects, stripped of ornament, could achieve beauty simply through form and color. Brandt's tea infuser is the quintessential Bauhaus object. Only three inches high, its diminuitive size results from its function. Unlike conventional teapots, it is intended to distill a concentrated extract, which, when combined with hot water in the cup, can produce tea of any desired strength.

While incorporating the usual elements of a teapot, the designer has reinvented them as abstract geometric forms. The body is a hemisphere cradled on crossbars. The thin circular lid, placed off center to avoid drips (a common fault of metal teapots with hinged lids), had a tall cylindrical knop. The handle, a D-shaped slice of ebony set high for ease of pouring, provides a strong vertical contrast to the object's predominant horizontality. Although the pot is carefully resolved functionally, its visual impact lies in the uncompromising sculptural statement it makes. It is defiantly modern.

Marking: Infuser (on base, stamped): [German assay marks: crescent moon, crown with cross]; 900; ZII [hallmark]; Lid and strainer (stamped): UZ·· [hallmark]
(sale, Christie's, Amsterdam, October 26, 1989, no. 431, sold to private collection); private collection (1989–2000; sold through Fine Art Society, London to MMA)

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Century of Design, Part ll: 1925-1950," May 9–October 29, 2000, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Significant Objects," November 26, 2002–May 2, 2004, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Curator's Eye: J. Stewart Johnson, 1990–2004," March 1–November 6, 2005, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Modern Design: Selections from the Collection," May 30–October 5, 2008, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Highlights from the Modern Design Collection: 1900 to the Present," June 23, 2009–May 1, 2011, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Plain or Fancy?: Restraint and Exuberance in the Decorative Arts," February 26–August 18, 2013, no catalogue.

Peter Hahn and Christian Wolsdorff, ed. Bauhaus Archiv-Museum. Sammlungs-Katalog (Auswahl): Architektur, Design, Malerei, Graphik, Kunstpädagogik. Berlin, 1981, pp. 106–7, no. 193, ill. (Bauhaus Archiv-Museum version).

Isabelle Anscombe. A Woman's Touch: Women in Design from 1860 to the Present Day. New York, 1985, p. 142.

Klaus Weber in Experiment Bauhaus. Exh. cat., Bauhaus Dessau. Berlin, 1988, pp. 132–33, no. 123, ill. (Bauhaus Archiv-Museum version).

Judy Rudoe. Decorative Arts 1850–1950: A Catalogue of the British Museum Collection. London, 1991, p. 22, colorpl. 15 (British Museum collection), notes that the British Museum owns the only other silver example of this teapot (no. 26); lists a brass version in the Bauhaus-Archiv Museum, Berlin and two bronze versions in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg and the Kunstsammlungen, Weimar.

Frank Whitford, ed. The Bauhaus Masters & Students by Themselves. London, 1992, ill. p. 174 (color; Kunstsammlungen Weimar version).

Klaus Weber. Die Metallwerkstätt am Bauhaus. Exh. cat., Bauhaus-Archiv, Museum für Gestaltung. Berlin, 1992, pp. 140–41.

J. Stewart Johnson in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1999–2000." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 58 (Autumn 2000), p. 63, ill. (color).

Hans Brockhage and Reinhold Lindner. Marianne Brandt: "Hab ich je an Kunst gedacht". Chemnitz, 2001, p. 15, ill. pp. 14–15 (Bauhaus-Archiv Museum, Berlin; British Museum, London; and Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg versions).