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  • Place of origin:

    Etruria (made)

  • Date:

    1769-1780 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Stella, Jacques, born 1596 - died 1657 (designer)
    Josiah Wedgwood and Sons (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Black basalt with applied and moulded decoration in relief

  • Credit Line:

    Transferred from the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118, The Wolfson Gallery, case 2

Object Type
The vase was purely decorative and would have been displayed in a domestic interior, possibly on a mantelpiece, where it may have been flanked by other, smaller vases.

Design & Designing
Josiah Wedgwood's move into vase production coincided with the fashionable world taking up the vase as a symbol of the new 'antique' style. The demand for 'antique' vases was so great that, in addition to copying surviving Classical antiquities, manufacturers took designs from prints of the 17th and 18th centuries. Some of these prints were highly fanciful inventions, which were not seriously intended as models for production. Wedgwood adapted the design here from the Livre de Vases put together by the French painter Jacques Stella (1596-1657). Wedgwood further dramatised Stella's design by adding scales to the fish tail and increasing the height of the plinth. He described Stella's book, published in 1667, as 'an admirable one indeed', and commented that 'many good things may be made out of [it]'. Wedgwood based at least four of his vase shapes on designs by Stella.

Materials & Making
The vase is made of Black Basalt, one of several types of pottery that Wedgwood (1730-1795) introduced or refined. The colour came from 'Carr', an oxide of iron suspended in water that had flowed through coal seams and mines.

Physical description

Vase of black basalt, with applied and moulded decoration in relief. The ovoid body and flattened top are in one piece decorated with a band of fret-pattern round the shoulder and festoons of drapery below; tall circular foot resting on a high square plinth. From the top rises a dolphin's tail, arched to form a handle at the base of which is applied a grotesque mask; a similar mask is placed on the front of the body forming the spout.

Place of Origin

Etruria (made)


1769-1780 (made)


Stella, Jacques, born 1596 - died 1657 (designer)
Josiah Wedgwood and Sons (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Black basalt with applied and moulded decoration in relief

Marks and inscriptions

Maker's identification; in applied circular seal


Height: 32.07 cm, Diameter: 13.97 cm

Object history note

Jermyn Street Collection.

Based on a design in the Livre de vases, published in 1667, by Jacques Stella (born in Lyon, France, in 1596, died in Paris in 1657); Made at Josiah Wedgwood's factory, Etruria, Staffordshire

Descriptive line

Ewer, black basalt with applied and moulded decoration in relief, based on a design in the Livre de vases, published in 1667, by Jacques Stella, made at Josiah Wedgwood's factory, Etruria, Staffordshire, 1769-1780

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Young, Hilary (ed.). The Genius of Wedgwood. London : Victoria & Albert Museum, 1995

Labels and date

made at the factory of Josiah Wedgwood, Etruria, Staffordshire, 1769-1780
Black Basalt

2398-1901 Jermyn Street Collection

The source for the design of this vase is a print of 1667 by Jacques Stella. [23/05/2008]




Applied work; Moulded

Subjects depicted

Banners; Masks; Key pattern; Rosettes; Scale pattern


Ceramics; Stoneware; Vases; Containers


Ceramics Collection

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