Abstract

Abstract:

Appealing to notions of exoticism, the pineapple fruit secured a stronghold on the eighteenth-century British imagination. I analyze the ways in which British subjects understood the pineapple, as both a natural product and a decorative motif. I focus on a particularly popular example of pineapple cream-ware, a Staffordshire coffee-pot, as a way to explore the multifaceted implications of the fruit and its role in empire, and to identify the paradoxical symbolism of the pineapple. Today, many individuals understand the fruit as a symbol of polite hospitality; I complicate this notion, turning to horticulture dictionaries and natural histories in order to reconstruct the eighteenth-century British fascination with this Caribbean fruit, arguing that the pineapple—as a fruit and a decorative object—also embodied notions of empire and difference.

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