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Ocean sugar bowl and cover - 1882

Ocean sugar bowl and cover
    Ocean sugar bowl and cover

This humble domestic sugar bowl embodies many of the tastes and trends in vogue during the latter decades of the nineteenth century. The Victorians in an era of discovery wanted ‘natural’ design elements to feature in the domestic products they purchased, but they also wanted to be fashionable, given the craze for Japonaiserie that was sweeping Europe at the time. This object is part of a tea set in the Wedgwood Museum's collections.

Captivated by all aspects of exploration and discovery the Victorians clamoured for ceramics that featured naturalistic forms and decoration. Japanese art remained the dominant influence on European fashion during the nineteenth century, and following the country’s participation in the International Exhibitions a craze for shapes and decoration in the Japanese ‘style’ ensued. This humble Majolica sugar bowl, with its moulded shell motifs and distinct Japanese influences, satisfied the market’s demand for ‘Japonaiserie’. The Etruria factory, as a direct response to a request from Charles Bachhoffner - Wedgwood’s London showroom manager, developed the eye-catching light coloured background that is a feature of this item. This object is part of a tea set in the Wedgwood Museum's collections.

  • Type of object: Teaware/sugar bowl
  • Mark: WEDGWOOD
  • Year produced: 1882
  • Body: Queen's ware, cream-coloured earthenware
  • Glaze: clear glaze
  • Material: ceramic
  • Decoration: moulded, majolica
  • Accession number: 9076c, 9076d
  • Dimensions: 123 mm (height), 102 mm (diameter)

Other images


  • Queen’s ware

    Queen’s ware

    In 1765 Wedgwood provided a tea and coffee service to Her Majesty Queen Charlotte (wife of George III) in the new earthenware body he had recently perfected. She was so pleased with the set that she not only allowed Josiah to style himself ‘Potter to Her Majesty’, she also allowed him to call his new earthenware ‘Queen’s ware’ - a name by which Wedgwood’s cream coloured earthenware is still known today.

  • Japonaiserie


    A term used to describe an art or design style based on an incomplete understanding of the actual culture it is imitating. Many of the ‘Japanese’ ornaments and motifs used by the Wedgwood factory bear little relationship to true Oriental styles.

  • Majolica


    Majolica ware consists of an earthenware body which can be cast or moulded into a wide variety of shapes (including umbrella stands, garden pots, salad bowls etc.) and which is then decorated with a selection of oxide-rich opaque glazes of varying hues. Produced at the old Etruria factory between 1860 and 1910, Majolica proved to be particularly popular with the Victorians.