Sunday, December 14, 2008
Part IV of on ongoing article on the life and times of Josiah Wedgwood and his Wedgwood Factory.
Josiah Wedgwood, the elder, died January 3, 1795, and, though the works went on after his death, his personal supervision and inspiration could never be replaced. With his death the production of old Wedgwood, as the connoisseur knows it, ceased.
Now as to the Wedgwood wares. In 1754 Wedgwood invented a green glaze that enjoyed some popularity, but the improved cream-colored ware was the earliest that is still extant in any considerable quantity. This ware was light and durable, similar to Leeds ware in appearance, but superior to it in biscuit, glaze, color, and form. Several tones and hues were employed, ranging from pale cream to deep straw, saffron, and sulphur yellow. It is always clear and even in tone, forming a good background for decoration. At first it was plain; later it was decorated in various ways-colored lines, marbled in gold, or decorated with flower, fruit, vine, shell, or Etruscan borders in blue, red, green, black, and brown. Gilt appeared occasionally on pieces made from 1763 to 1765. The color was painted on by hand, at first merely on the surface and later burned in. At first the decorated pieces were rather too expensive, so that later the outlines were printed and the color filled in by hand, but the work was always careful and accurate.
In 1761 Wedgwood presented a breakfast set of this cream-colored ware to Oueen Charlotte, and was made Potter to her Majesty in consequence. This increased the popularity of the ware materially, and it became known as queen's-ware, the name commonly given to it by collectors today.
As early as 1761 Wedgwood was making excellent tea- and dinner sets in queen's-ware that sold as cheaply as £4 for 146 pieces at wholesale. Many of his decorated services were much more costly, however. Sasketwork dishes were common, and vases of good form with Etruscan borders. The pierced and embossed work was always done with minute perfection, which distinguishes it from Leeds and other wares.
Wedgwood invented many new dishes for his table services, and made also flower-pots, bulb-pots, and "bough pots." Serpent, goat's head, satyr, and dolphin handles and festoons are noteworthy features. While the queen's-ware cannot compare with basalt and jasper for artistic beauty, there is a charm about the look and the "feel" of it that endears it to the hearts of Wedgwood enthusiasts. To be Continued.
Pictured above: Wedgwood Jasperware Cobalt Lemonade Pitcher, Circa 1910-1930, available at our CHShops.com Mall Store at: http://pennysantiquesandwedgwoodpantry.chshops.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=19_27&products_id=251.