The Silver Collection owes its rich and important holdings of East Asian porcelain dating to around 1700 to Duke Charles Alexandre of Lorraine, brother of the Holy Roman Emperor Franz I and brother-in-law of Maria Theresa.
Most of these porcelain objects were originally made in Japan or China and exported via the Japanese port of Imari. Produced exclusively for the European market, they were often mounted elaborately in silver by European craftsmen once they had arrived in Europe and thus were elevated into the category of luxury objects. These mounts also served to join East Asian vessels together to make tableware that conformed to the customs of European dining.
Maria Theresa’s Mundzeug was made for her exclusive personal use.
The ‘Mundzeug’ (literally, ‘mouth set’) was a set of eating implements which accompanied her wherever she went. It comprises a knife, fork, serving fork and a spoon, with a small matching eggcup, an egg spoon with a marrow extractor, and a salt-cellar. It is made of solid gold and was fashioned around the middle of the eighteenth century.