Vases

Wedgwood's ornamental wares of the 1760s, using his superior cream-coloured earthenware, were the first pottery vases to be made in England, and appealed to the new fashion for such objects. He considered the production of such items an exciting and inexhaustible field. In June 1767 Josiah wrote that he was ‘picking up every design, & improvements for a Vase work & am every day more & more convinced that it will answer our wishes'.

He was correct. Wedgwood's ceramics became an integral part of the interior décor of every important English house, with vases used as both containers for flowers – an all-abiding passion for Georgian society – and as purely decorative objects.

Wedgwood kept careful records of the shapes made, which have survived until today. Catalogues of his ornamental wares were produced from 1773, and translated into French, Dutch and German for the growing foreign market.  

‘Vases with high crown'd hats! - Have you ever thought seriously, as you ought to do on that subject. I never think of it but new improvements crowd in upon me & almost overwhelm my patience' he wrote to Thomas Bentley in November 1766.

The opening of the Etruria factory in 1769 coincided with the arrival of neo-classical architecture. With it came the development of grand country house interiors, in which the ornamental vase became a central feature of the décor. Wedgwood and Bentley's vases, created to fit these schemes, were a sensation and it became Josiah's aim to satisfy what he called, ‘this universal passion'. 

 

Images

Cream-coloured earthenware vase with conical lid, decorated with rococo swags, lion's-head masks an, one of Josiah's early vases which were soon adapted to neo-classical styles.

Cream-coloured earthenware vase with conical lid, decorated with rococo swags, lion's-head masks an, one of Josiah's early vases which were soon adapted to neo-classical styles.