Cup and Saucer thumbnail 1
Cup and Saucer thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery

Cup and Saucer

ca. 1783 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This cup may have been from a d‚jeuner (a small tea or coffee service, made with or without a matching tray). The cost of the hand-painted decoration probably restricted the use of such wares to relatively prosperous households. They would have been used at afternoon or after-dinner tea when guests were present, or may have been personal luxuries used by wealthy individuals when taking tea in private. However, Wedgwood listed 'Etruscan cabinet cups and saucers' in his catalogue of 1779, and it may be that his teawares of this type were partly for display.

Materials & Making
The cup and saucer are made of Black Basalt, a type of fine-grained stoneware. This is impervious to liquids, although some Basalt teawares were glazed to prevent staining. In 1772 Wedgwood hoped sales of his Basalt teawares would benefit from the women's fashion for white hands, as the black pottery would make them look paler still. Wedgwood called the painting on these pieces 'encaustic'. The name was originally applied to an ancient Greek and Roman technique of painting using hot wax. Wedgwood's encaustic decoration was hand-painted in a mixture of enamel pigments and slip (a mixture of clay and water), and then fired on to the body.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Cup
  • Saucer
Materials and Techniques
Black basalt with 'encaustic' painting
Brief Description
Cup and saucer, black basalt with 'encaustic' painting, made at Josiah Wedgwood's factory, Etruria, Staffordshire, 1783
Physical Description
Cup and saucer of black basalt ware, decorated with 'encaustic' painting in red and white. The cup is painted outside and the saucer inside with a border of double anthemion pattern.
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'WEDGWOOD' (Impressed)
  • '1' and '4' (Impressed)
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Wedgwood had two business partnerships during the 1770s. He made 'useful wares' with his cousin, Thomas, and ornamental wares with Thomas Bentley. Basalt teawares such as these were a profitable and fashionable production line, and at Bentley's insistence their manufacture was transferred to the 'ornamental' partnership.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Transferred from the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street
Object history
Made at Josiah Wedgwood's factory, Etruria, Staffordshire
Subject depicted
Summary
Object Type
This cup may have been from a d‚jeuner (a small tea or coffee service, made with or without a matching tray). The cost of the hand-painted decoration probably restricted the use of such wares to relatively prosperous households. They would have been used at afternoon or after-dinner tea when guests were present, or may have been personal luxuries used by wealthy individuals when taking tea in private. However, Wedgwood listed 'Etruscan cabinet cups and saucers' in his catalogue of 1779, and it may be that his teawares of this type were partly for display.

Materials & Making
The cup and saucer are made of Black Basalt, a type of fine-grained stoneware. This is impervious to liquids, although some Basalt teawares were glazed to prevent staining. In 1772 Wedgwood hoped sales of his Basalt teawares would benefit from the women's fashion for white hands, as the black pottery would make them look paler still. Wedgwood called the painting on these pieces 'encaustic'. The name was originally applied to an ancient Greek and Roman technique of painting using hot wax. Wedgwood's encaustic decoration was hand-painted in a mixture of enamel pigments and slip (a mixture of clay and water), and then fired on to the body.
Bibliographic References
  • Young, Hilary (ed.). The Genius of Wedgwood. London : Victoria & Albert Museum, 1995B32 (F)
  • The Age of Neo-Classicism, London : Arts Council of Great Britain, 1972No. 1869
Collection
Accession Number
2407&A-1901

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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