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Shell decorated dessert plate - 1778/93

Shell decorated dessert plate
    Shell decorated dessert plate

This Pearlware dessert plate is hand-painted in green enamel, over an outline transfer-print. Probably by Guy Green of Liverpool.

This Pearlware dessert plate is hand-painted in green enamel, over an outline transfer-print. Probably by Guy Green of Liverpool. Josiah Wedgwood was a keen and ardent conchologist or shell collector of which he made a serious study from 1778 onwards. He amassed huge numbers of shells in Etruria Hall. He once wrote to his partner, Thomas Bentley: "I have turned my back on my Pottery and had my face over my shell drawer - I am in imminent danger of becoming and connoisseur. You can scarcely conceive the progress I have made in a month or two in the deep & very elaborate science of shell fancying."

  • Type of object: Dessert ware/plate
  • Mark: Wedgwood
    [Impressed, faint]
  • Year produced: 1778/93
  • Body: pearlware
  • Glaze: clear glaze
  • Material: ceramic
  • Decoration: hand-enamelled, bat printed, transfer-printed
  • Accession number: 3376
  • Dimensions: 183 mm (diameter)

Glossary

  • Pearlware

    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."