Josiah Wedgwood 1730-1795
English potter, whose works are among the finest examples of ceramic art.
Wedgwood was born in Burslem, Staffordshire, on July 12, 1730, into a family with a long tradition as potters. At the age of nine, after the death of his father, he worked in his family's pottery.
In 1759 he set up his own pottery works in Burslem. There he produced a highly durable cream-coloured earthenware that so pleased Queen Charlotte that in 1762 she appointed him royal supplier of dinnerware. From the public sale of Queen's Ware, as it came to be known, Wedgwood was able, in 1768, to build near Stoke-on-Trent a village, which he named Etruria, and a second factory equipped with tools and ovens of his own design. At first only ornamental pottery was made in Etruria, but by 1773 Wedgwood had concentrated all his production facilities there.
During his long career Wedgwood developed revolutionary ceramic materials, notably basalt and jasperware.
Wedgwood Queen's Ware
Wedgwood's cream coloured table ware was not an original invention but a refinement and development growing out of the cream coloured earthenware works produced in several potteries in Staffordshire. It was Josiah's refinement and introduction of Cornish clay and stone to provide a more white body coupled with his sophistication of shape and glaze set his cream coloured product apart from that produced in rival potteries.
English pottery changed very little from the Norman Conquest to the eighteenth century.
Gradual improvements were then made in the process of manufacture.
By mid century Josiah Wedgwood was leading the way in improving and cheapening methods of production.
His innovations included using steam power to grind materials, helping in the building of the canal system to transport both raw materials and finished goods, and adapting the power lathe for certain jobs.
Wedgwood potteries also supplied porcelain dentures - 12,000 in 1804 - but they didn't fit very well!
What do you think inspired the designs on some of Wedgwood's china and pottery?
Discoveries in the ruins of Pompeii. Ancient Classical images were popular at the time and this interest was also seen in the design of houses and furniture.