Marine motifs were very popular, with oysters, mussels, lobsters and dolphins nesting against rocky backgrounds, along with a prevalence of other natural motifs such as vegetables. This decoration will have served as a suggestion towards the ingredients of the soup rather than being solely ornamentation- seafood was considered a luxury.
Tureens were said to have been introduced to England via the French court in the early 18th century as a functional table piece from which a host could serve soup or stew. Louis XIV’s taste for hot, rich stews is often credited as a major influence in the use of tureens. As with anything that he was seen to use, the members of his court and French high society emulated him and used tureens to display their own wealth. In the 18th century, dinner services took on a role of importance and formality. Often the tureen was the principal piece of table settings, as it was much larger than most other items. During this time, tureens were displayed with matching stands and ladles and by the late 18th century sauce boats were replaced with smaller sauce tureens, often matching their larger counterparts. Sauce tureens, in addition to holding hot sauces, were used to hold mustard and other cold accompaniments to meat.
Tureens’ popularity throughout history has largely been due to the nature of meals served at formal dinners which, until fairly recently, was predominantly liquid based and would have been cooked for hours in one large pot. These meals, while still having the potential to be refined and sophisticated, were unfortunately difficult to present to guests in an aesthetically pleasing form.