Tableware

May 7, 2020
Paul Bert Serpette

Since ancient Greece, the banquet culture has seen the birth of canthares, craters and amphorae for serving wine and various dishes necessary for cooking and preserving food. The concept of individuality does not exist during meals, dishes, cutlery and glasses will appear much later over the centuries. Cap on tableware with Paul Bert Serpette.

 

The tablecloth of the Middle Ages

The table of the Middle Ages takes a new dimension and has a very religious connotation, in particular with the appearance of the tablecloth. At the same time useful for hiding the trestles and wiping, the tablecloth presents a symbolic role by its white color, making allusion to the tablecloth of the altar of sacrifices. Men eat on trenches and various dishes, drinking objects and kitchen utensils are used, made in terracotta or stoneware.

 

Renaissance and declination of tableware

The dishes sublime the kitchens and tables of the aristocracy distinguishing office dishes for the preparation of dishes, tableware for guests and ceremonial tableware intended for display only.

The glass replaces the goblet and is available according to its content: water, wine ... The cutlery is gradually imposed, the plate is born and begins the individual cutlery. The bowl was formerly collective, the plate, meanwhile, is personal. The table is now set up with cutlery of identical material and if possible the same decor. However, it will be necessary to wait for the suppers of five or six courses from Louis XIV for cutlery and plates to become usual.

 

18th century, Louis XIV and French tableware

During the reign of Louis XIV, it is important to show his power and this also goes through the influence of French cuisine. The latter must therefore be sublimated by tableware as refined as sumptuous. Brought by the Medicis, the napkin adorns the table, metal or ceramic plates quickly give way to porcelain, the fruit of relations with China, the only one to hold the recipe for hard porcelain. The worked crystal glasses invite themselves to the party but are not yet placed on Table.

The nobles are attached to the sophistication of good manners and tableware. Napkins and glasses are placed on the tablecloth, knives and forks with three teeth are placed on the right of the plate. Decorative objects and flowers in silk, linen and velvet adorn the centerpiece. Each dish is arranged symmetrically, thus giving life to French-style service, a tradition that Versailles will spread across Europe.

 

19th century, the bourgeoisie intensified demand

Inspired by the nobility, the bourgeois of the XIXth century quickly took a liking to the tableware but the people would continue for a while to eat with a spoon. The XIXth century was the peak of the big names in tableware, the old Saint-Anne glassworks becomes a crystal factory, inducting the beginnings of the prestigious Glass and Crystal Glassworks Company of Baccarat… Christofle, Saint Louis and Baccarat will thus participate in the creative effervescence of the era linked to the growing demand.

Inventions are multiplying, fish cutlery, teaspoon, oyster plates ... The Saint Louis crystal factory innovates, Christofle becomes the supplier of Louis-Philippe then of Napoleon, Baccarat also honors royal orders.

 

All these creations still sublimate our tables today, classic, bohemian or graphic ones... Tableware reflects the French lifestyle, sign of pleasure and conviviality.