The eccentric-looking porcelain of ceramic fruit and vegetables has always baffled and bemused, but it’s recently had something of a moment. From its roots in 18th-century London to the fresh designs in Anthropologie, vegetable-inspired tableware has certainly made an impact on the masses.
Antique pieces fetch huge sums, too. When Rachel ‘Bunny’ Mellon’s collection of 18th-century vegetable ceramics was sold by Sotheby’s in New York in 2014, the prices were phenomenal. A pair of 1775 Chelsea asparagus tureens sold for £76,000, while a trio of 19th-century cabbage tureens brought the hammer down at £4,700.
It’s clear that the appeal of these intriguing pieces is far from waning. But how to display them once you’ve got your hands on a piece of the produce-inspired action?
A sideboard in your dining room makes the ideal spot to group together pieces of your collection – a contemporary, understated piece of furniture offsets the unmistakable look of the ceramics. More exotic pieces such as pineapple-shaped jugs add extra interest to your display (and serving from one in the 17th century indicated that you were a person of great wealth and importance).
Use open shelves to display your collection of statement plates and vases. A fabric that follows the same theme pulls the look together. Colourful fruit and vegetable designs look best against a natural background, so paint your walls in earthy colours to create a real impact.
Create a smart, ordered look by displaying a set of plates above a fireplace and framing them with a bold paper border. Stock up on invisible adhesive disc plate hangers (£2.50 from Hobbycraft). If your plates are too precious to hang, dispel any worry and prop them on a shelf using wooden plate stands.
Discover more about fruit and vegetable ceramics in the October issue of Homes & Antiques. To purchase a copy click here