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Darwin Water Lily ewer - 1868

Darwin Water Lily ewer, © Wedgwood Museum
    Darwin Water Lily ewer
    © Wedgwood Museum

Ewer with under-glaze blue-printed design of so-called Darwin Water Lily. Pearl Ware. Ewer, 1868; Plate 1826-35; tankard c.1810

Ewer with under-glaze blue-printed design of so-called Darwin Water Lily. Pearl Ware. Ewer, 1868; Plate 1826-35; tankard c.1810. Darwin Water Lily designs, were introduced into production during the first decade of the 19th century. The prints were adapted from botanical publications including the ‘Botanical Magazine’ and the ‘Botanist’s Repository’.The so-called Darwin Water Lily pattern was first produced in brown and gold which was purchased by Robert Waring Darwin, the husband of Josiah’s eldest child - Susannah Wedgwood, the parents of Charles Darwin, for their home in Shrewsbury. It was subsequently manufactured in underglaze-blue becoming one of the most striking of these printed botanical designs.

  • Type of object: Ornamental ware/ewer
  • Mark: WEDGWOOD
  • Year produced: 1868
  • Body: pearlware
  • Glaze: pearl
  • Material: ceramic
  • Decoration: under-glaze blue-painted and printed
  • Accession number: 3729
  • Dimensions: 230 mm (width), 224 mm (height), 175 mm (depth)

Related people

  • Charles Darwin

    Charles Darwin (1809 - 1882)

    Born in Shrewsbury England in 1809, Charles was the fifth child of six to be born to society doctor and financier Robert Darwin and his wife Susannah (the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood I). Charles is best known for his theory of evolution and this, together with compelling evidence, was published in his famous book 'On the Origin of the Species'. His five year voyage on HMS Beagle established him as an eminent geologist. Described as one of the most influential figures in human history, Charles was honoured with a state funeral on his death in 1882. His grave is in Westminster Abbey close to that of Isaac Newton and latterly Professor Stephen Hawking physicist, cosmologist and author.

  • Susannah Wedgwood

    Susannah Wedgwood (1765 - 1817)

    Eldest child of Josiah and Sarah, Susannah, or Sukey as she was known, was born on 3rd January 1765. Her father was immensely proud of his daughter, often describing how he ‘dandled her on his knee’ when she was a baby. She was intelligent and popular, and can be claimed to have been her father’s favourite. In 1796 she married Robert Waring Darwin – third son of the Wedgwood family friend and physician, Erasmus Darwin. The couple set up home at The Mount in Shrewsbury, and amongst her offspring was the great but controversial naturalist Charles Darwin, whose theories on evolution caused huge divisions in Victorian society. Susannah died on 15th July 1817.


  • Pearlware



    Essentially an earthenware body, which has had extra flint added to the initial clay-mix and cobalt to the glaze, to enhance the overall blue-white appearance of the ware. Initially perfected by Josiah Wedgwood I in around 1779, this ceramic ware was basically developed to meet the competition of imported blue-decorated Chinese porcelain. Production of this particular ceramic body continued until 1940.

    The development of pearlware by Josiah Wedgwood was a response to his fear that Queen's ware had become so popular that it was losing it's cachet amongst his clientele. For example on the 6th August 1779 Josiah wrote to Thomas Bentley "I should not hesitate a moment in prefering the creamware if I consulted my own taste and sentiments but you know what Lady Dartmouth told us , that she & her friends were tired of creamcolour & so they would of Angels if they were shown for sale in every chandlers shop throughout the time."