vase and cover
- Place of origin:
Wedgwood and Bentley (made)
- Credit Line:
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
British Galleries, Room 118, The Wolfson Gallery, case 2 
This vase is purely decorative and was probably intended for display in a private library or other domestic interior. It was made at a time when vases were enormously popular. Wedgwood exploited and promoted this fashion, boasting of his intention of becoming 'Vase Maker General to the Universe' in 1769. For Wedgwood, the vase form itself had elevated associations. In 1771 he said: 'it is the forms more than the colours of many of the Vases which has raised, & unvulgariz'd them - Make exactly the same pebbles [pottery with mottled glazes like this one] into Tea ware & they are let down to the class of common Pott ware again, many degrees below Queens Ware'.
Design & Designing
The exact source for the shape of this vase has not been traced to date although it incorporates various classical elements found in different printed sources known to have been in Wedgwood's library. The glaze imitates the surface of porphyry or another similar hardstone. In 1770 Wedgwood wrote of his intention to imitate ancient porphyry vases. He asked his business partner to borrow one owned by Lord Besborough so that he could cast a mould from it.
Vase of cream-coloured earthenware, decorated with a speckled glaze imitating porphyry and gilding, moulded with gadroons below an applied frieze of cream swags, the neck with spiralling gadroons, applied at the shoulder with handles formed as female heads with drapery, set on a basalt base moulded with anthemions. The vase and base are held together by a metal rod and bolt. The small wooden replacement cover decorated to match the 'porphyry' glaze with a cream knop.
Place of Origin
Wedgwood and Bentley (made)
Marks and inscriptions
‘WEDGWOOD & BENTLEY: ETRURIA’
mark, impressed on a circular pad to underside of base
Height: 29 cm
Object history note
According to Reilly (see below), this shape is Wedgwood's vase shape no. 41.
Vase of cream-coloured earthenware with a porphyry glaze, the handles formed as female heads, on a black basalt plinth, made at the factory of Josiah Wedgwood, Etruria, Staffordshire, ca. 1770-75 and a wooden replacement cover.
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Reilly, Robin. Wedgwood, Stockton Press, New York, 1989, Vol 1, see no. 469, p. 359, for a similar vase with different, probably replacement, handles in the Lady Lever Art Gallery and no. 551, p. 406 for a vase of the same design in black basalt, in the Dwight and Lucille Beeson Collection, Birmingham Museum, Alabama, both marked ‘WEDGWOOD & BENTLEY, ETRURIA’.
Earthenware; Stoneware; Wood
Ceramics; Creamware & Pearlware; Interiors