University Collections of Art and History

Object Record

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Catalog Number R1990.4.1
Object Name Monteith
Description Monteith having a deep, hemispherical body with eight deep U-shaped notches cut into the rim; painted in underglaze blue on the exterior with peonies and vines on a blue ground with eight reserve panels containing alternating floral sprays or vases; on the interior the eight Buddhist emblems on the eight vertical panels between the notches; flowers and precious objects in a circular frame in the center of the well; and a floral spray in a circular frame on the underside of the base. There is an iron-brown band painted on the edge of the bowl's rim.

A monteith is, in the words of a 1721 dictionary, "a scallop bason to cool glasses in." The monteith would be filled with cold water, and the bowls of glasses submerged into the bason and held in place by placing their base in the notches in the rim.

In the late 1600s and early 1700s, many wines were drunk chilled, which was helped by cooled glassware. Also, drinkers rarely had their own glass, but rather shared glasses which were rinsed in monteith between use.

According to the English diarist, Anthony Wood, the unusual name comes from "a fantastical Scot called 'Monsieur Monteigh' who at that time or a little before wore the bottoms of his cloake or coate so notched UUUU." Though nothing else is known about the fashionably dressed Scotsman, his name continues; in the words of the English poet William King, "new things produce new words and so Monteith has by one vessel saved himself from Death."
Year Range from 1710
Year Range to 1720
Material Hard Paste Porcelain
Collection The Reeves Center
On View Reeves Center, Chinese Export Porcelain Gallery