Monday, January 12, 2009

More About Wedgwood, Part VI, Author Unknown

The Beautiful Pottery Of Wedgwood

The jasper ware was Wedgwood's own invention. It received his closest personal attention, and some of his finest pieces were made in it. It is best described in his own words as "a white porcelain bisque of exquisite beauty and delicacy, possessing the quality of receiving color throughout its whole substance. This renders it particularly fit for cameos, portraits, and all subjects in bas-relief, as the ground may be made of any color throughout and the raised figures in pure white." It included in its composition barium, clay, and finely ground flint, and in its natural color was a peculiar dense, opaque white, varying from chalk-white to ivory.

It is hard to say whether the chief charm of jasper-ware lies in its color, its form, or the beauty and perfection of the ornamentation. Certainly the colorings are superb. Many colors were employedmostly delicate tints-the light blue perhaps being the most popular and best known. There were at least five tones and hues of blue derived from cobalt, six tones of green, three tones of red, from orange to terra cotta, lilac, rose, plum, chocolate, buff, brown, canary-yellow, black, and four distinct whites. White was usually employed in relief on one of these colors, and sometimes with a combination of two other colors. Occasionally two colors were employed without white, such as olive-green on buff.

There were two ways of coloring the Jasper-coloring throughout and coloring simply the surface by dipping. The latter method was invented in 1777 and made possible several new effects. The majority of the ware, however, is colored throughout.

Previous to 1781 the jasper-ware had been used almost exclusively for plaques and cameos. Then Wedgwood turned his attention to vases, adapting the forms largely from the antique. They were made in various sizes, chiefly in one color with white reliefs. Many were ornamented in Classic figures by Flaxman. To these jasper vases Wedgwood owes much of his reputation as a consummate artist and craftsman.

The well known incident of the Portland vase may be worthy of mention at this point. In 1787 Wedgwood made fifty copies of the famous antique Barberini vase, owned by the Duke of Portland. This vase was a wonderful example of the highest type of Classic art, and Wedgwood's copies nearly surpassed the original. They were made in black and blue, with white reliefs. It is said that about twenty of the original fifty copies are extant in museums and private collections, chiefly in England, but the authenticity of some of them is disputed.

After 1780 many articles were made in jasperware: tea and coffee sets, including cups and saucers, bowls and sugar basins, tea and coffee pots, cream pitchers and trays; plaques, medallions, and cameos; scent-bottles, match-pots, a few pipe-bowls and hookahs, candlesticks, pedestals for statuettes and busts, pots for growing bulbs and flowering plants, and a remarkable set of chessmen designed by Flaxman in 1785.

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Pictured above: Wedgwood Cobalt Biscuit Barrel, Circa 1880 or prior. See this item, and other Wedgwood antiques at our Mall Store at:


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