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Frog Service

  • Object:

    Plate

  • Place of origin:

    Etruria (made)
    Chelsea (painted)

  • Date:

    1773 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Josiah Wedgwood and Sons (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Creamware (Queen's Ware), painted in enamels

  • Credit Line:

    Alfred Williams Hearn Bequest

  • Museum number:

    C.74-1931

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case 3

Object Type
The dish was for serving meat dishes or vegetables. It was originally meant to have a domed oval cover to protect the food and keep it warm.

Ownershp & Use
The 'Frog Service' was a 50-person set intended for dinner and dessert. Catherine the Great bought it for her Gothic summer palace built in a frog marsh some miles outside St Petersburg -- hence the inclusion of the frog motif. The service was painted with a total of 1222 views of British landscapes, antiquities and gardens. It cost £2,290 and was intended for occasional use, not for display alone. In the event this particular dish was not sent to Russia, probably because it was replaced by one with a more interesting view.

Subject Depicted
Wedgwood's partner Thomas Bentley selected the views to go onto the service. This one shows the gardens at West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, which were laid out by Sir Francis Dashwood in 1739-1752. The painter copied the view from an engraving by William Woollett (1735-1785).

Physical description

Dish, cream coloured earthenware, painted in purplish and brownish black and green, with a view of West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. It is oval with a wavy edge. In the centre there is a scene of a lake with a boat and waterfowl, a park and trees in the background, painted in monochrome brown. The scene is surrounded by a painted gadroon border. Around the rim runs a painted oak stem with leaves and acorns. At the top ther is a shield with a frog painted in geen.

Place of Origin

Etruria (made)
Chelsea (painted)

Date

1773 (made)

Artist/maker

Josiah Wedgwood and Sons (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Creamware (Queen's Ware), painted in enamels

Marks and inscriptions

view number '285'
painting (image-making); 1773 - 1774

'"Imperial Russian Service by Wedgwood 1774. 285. Vue du Lac prise[?] de l'allie du milieu dans les jardins de Lord le despencer à West Wycombe, dans le comté de Buckingham". Extract from the original Catalogue of Service'
Label; on a paper label at the back; handwriting

Dimensions

Width: 29.84 cm, Length: 39.37 cm

Object history note

Part of the 'Frog Service' made for the Empress Catherine II of Russia's palace of La Grenouillière. This piece appears to have been omitted from the service at a late stage, as it is the only piece to be ommitted and yet appear in Bentley's catalogue of the service.
Made at Josiah Wedgwood's factory at Etruria, Staffordshire and painted at his decorating studio in Chelsea, London

Historical significance: The view is based upon the right hand side of 'A View of the Lake, etc. taken from the Center Walk in the Garden of Sir Francis Dashwood Bat. in the County of Bucks', engraved by William Woollett after a painting by William Hannan.

Descriptive line

Large oval, cream coloured earthenware plate painted with a view of the lake at West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. English, 1773-1774. Part of the 'Frog Service' made by Wedgwood for Catherine the Great of Russia

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

[Raeburn, M., L. N Veronikhina and A. Nurnberg eds. The Green Frog Service. London: Cocklegoose Press,1995. View A13.]
Hildyard, Robin. European Ceramics. London : V&A Publications, 1999. 144 p., ill. ISBN 185177260X
pp.128-129
Medlam, S. and Ellis Miller, L. (eds.) Princely Treasures: European Masterpieces 1600-1800 from the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publishing, 2011.
Bryan, Arthur, John Des Fontaines, Margaret Weston, Josiah Wedgwood: “the arts and sciences united”, London: Science Museum, 1978.
G113
Young, Hilary (ed.). The Genius of Wedgwood. London : Victoria & Albert Museum, 1995

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The 'Frog Service', so-called after the frog in the pattern, commemorated an estate in Russia. Catherine the Great commissioned the vast dinner and dessert service in 1773 and it was completed in 1774. There were 952 pieces, each one hand-painted with a view of Britain. Wedgwood made little profit on the commission, but it increased the fashionable reputation of his products. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

C.96-1932 is from the same service.

Materials

Earthenware

Techniques

Painting (image-making)

Subjects depicted

Landscape (representation); Oak leaf; Gadrooning

Categories

Ceramics; Food vessels & Tableware; Royalty; British Galleries

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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