Abraham Roentgen (German, 1711–1793)
Oak, cedar, veneered with rosewood; brass, iron, and steel; (without handle) 6 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 5 3/4 in. (16.5 x 24.1 x 14.6 cm)
Purchase, Friends of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Gifts, 1999 (1999.147)
Rarely used in Germany before the mid-eighteenth century, tea chests were likely introduced from England by Abraham Roentgen. The Roentgen workshop made a wide range of tea chests—which became a best-selling model—most with a spring-driven drawer below to store the measuring spoon, released via a button inside the chest, accessible only after opening the lid. A small flip-spring-released door is concealed within the engraved brass escutcheon. The lid’s shape, alluding to a pagoda roof, calls to mind the Asian origin of exotic tea and reflects the taste for chinoiserie during the Rococo period. Abraham offered tea chests at the prestigious Frankfurt spring and autumn fairs, thus promoting such collectible novelties far beyond the region.