The tureen: a noble story, you will eat with kings when you serve soup in your tureen

Few other dishes have as much mystique and history as the tureen. Such a simple dish, really, and practical to serve only 6 or more people, but nonetheless the stuff of legend. It is designed for serving soups and stews, and for centuries it has been found in various designs, but it has always remained the same: an elegant shape with a domed lid and handles on the bottom plate. Few other dishes carry the history and tradition of the tureen. Sleeker contemporary designs or older vintage versions will be displayed with a lower tray.

500 years ago, it was common for soup to be the main European meal, and it was originally thought to be called ecuelle. A smaller dish, with handles and a lid and intended for scooping and drinking. It was with this prominent and frequent presence at the table that the tureen was born. With a plethora of inexpensive soups, stews, broths, and soups making up the common meal, it was only natural for artisans to seize the opportunity and begin crafting appropriate products.

Although its use is practical for serving communal food and keeping the plate warm, it has evolved into an elegant centerpiece at all levels of society. The artisans have approached the tureen as the most elegant dish among the porcelain set, the work of art if you will, of the serving set. The table quickly became the place of daily graces and ceremonies with the elegant tureen presiding over the family table. Over time, the one-dish meal evolved into plates, and various soup courses followed to support the traditions of a more complex society. The tureen provided an inexpensive way to make a lasting and elegant impression on dinner guests while serving affordable meals.

Thus the tureen has reclaimed its permanent and noble place in history, the Campbell Museum shares “whether named after the French military hero Marshal Turenne or called a pot oille, a Catalan-Proven├žal soup , came into use in the late 17th century. France. Most of the 17th century silver tureens were melted down to finance the wars of Louis’s later years and can only be glimpsed in paintings. By the mid-18th century, tureens in appropriate naturalistic forms, such as cabbage-head tureens, were popular”. You may also have heard of Thomas Germain, a Parisian silversmith who made a tureen in 1733 that he sold at Sotheby’s at auction in New York in 1966 for $10,287,500. One of the few and rare remaining Parisian silver tureens.

During the 18th century, artisans scrambled to meet the demand for pretentious services, developing extraordinary tureens from a variety of rare and precious resources. Fashionable shapes, precious metals, expensive decorations created some amazing works of art, all for serving soup. No other serving vessel can claim this artistic persistence to create a masterpiece for the table.

If you would like to review our selection of over 800 tureens, click here. You will also find additional information on tureens, bowls and ladles. As you serve your soup, appreciate the legacy of the noble tureen and bring the tradition to your own table. You’ll be eating with Kings when you serve your soup in a tureen.

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