Arthur Sanderson.

A catalogue of a collection of plaques, medallions, vases, figures, &c., in coloured jasper and basalte : online

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Online LibraryArthur SandersonA catalogue of a collection of plaques, medallions, vases, figures, &c., in coloured jasper and basalte : → online text (page 1 of 10)
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ik£^' f^^gg 66.

:atalogue of a collection

3f old wedgwood belonging

to arthur sanderson, esq.




















STAFFORD : 1 760- 1 795




Published by F. Rathbone

20 Alfred Place West

South Kensington, London, s.w.

Copies may be obtainea at the Museum of Science and Art,
Chambers Street, Edinburgh. Price td. ; per post M.

I 90 I

' Whether, O friend of art, your gems derive
Fine forms from Greece, and fabled gods revive,
Or bid from modern life the portrait breathe.
And bind round Honour's brow the laurel wreath.
Buoyant shall sail, with fame's historic page
Each fair medallion o'er the wrecks of age.
Nor time shall mar, nor steel, nor tire, nor rust,
Touch the hard polish of the immortal bust.' — Darwin.

Done from an original picture, painted on enamel' by George Stubbs,R. A., 1778.


' The progress of the arts, at all times and in every country, depends chiefly upon the
encouragement they receive from those who by their rank and aflluence are legislators
in taste ; and who alone are capable of bestowing rewards upon the labours of
industry, and the exertions of genius. It is their influence that forms the character
of every age : they can turn the current of human pursuits at their pleasure, and be
surrounded either with beauty or deformity, with men or barbarians. Great improve-
ments cannot be made without powerful patronage : no art ever was or can be carried
to great perfection with feeble efforts, or at a small expense ; and it depends upon those
who are possessed of riches and power, whether individuals shall be ruined or rewarded
for their ingenuity. ' — ^Josi ah Wedgwood : Introduction to his Catalogue of 1 787.

(RTHODOX exhibitions of every variety, illustrating-
all schools and periods, are not uncommon ; but an
exhibition of Old Wedgwood is a somewhat rare event, nearly as
rare as the Wedowood exhibited. Certain difficulties of instal-
lation have to be considered. Owners of valuable fragile works
of art are not easily induced to lend their treasures, A suitable


locality has to be found for the exhibition ; glass cases and other
accessories provided, mere wall space suitable for pictures and
drawings not being sufficient for the proper display of ceramic
art. Of the exhibitions of this often talked and written of but
really little-known art, two only can be recorded during the
last quarter of a century. The Loan Exhibition at Liverpool,
1879, and the Burslem Centenary Exhibition, held at the
Wedgwood Institute (the site of Wedgwood's first pottery) in

The locality selected for an exhibition of art, if convenient
and suitable for the purpose, may not be considered. But a
collection of Old Wedgwood will at least harmonise with the
city's renowned architecture, — a city endowed by Nature with
every charm of hill, dale, and prospect, enriched by man with
all the resources of art. No city in Europe, not even imperial
Rome, can show its visitors the beauty and power of classic
architecture as it is viewed in the modern capital of Scotland.
Munich has classic buildings copied from original Athenian
temples, but the effect of classic Edinburgh is somehow want-
ing. The solitary ruined temple in the Sicilian desert, romantic
as it is,- may not impress the beholder as does the harmony of a
living city where classic art is visible in every leading thorough-
fare. A city not only remarkable for its grand perspectives,
but also for its traditions, its historical connection with the
history of the country, and the celebrated men of every pro-
fession and calling who claim it as their city by birth or residence.

The Old Wedgwood now exhibited is mainly selected from
celebrated and well-known collections, some pieces being unique
of their kind either for colour, quality, or rarity. The object in


view has been to illustrate the evolution of Josiah Wedgwood's
artistic work as distinguished from his better-known useful
'ware.' This had not hitherto been attempted upon any
systematic plan — only possible, as in this instance, when an
enthusiastic collector encourages and commends. The owner
was anxious that all the collection should be gathered together
for comparison. A public exhibition was suggested, — the
authorities of the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art kindly
granting the necessary space, material, and assistance.

For the use of many of the engraved blocks (from -Meteyard's
Life of Wedgwood) used in this catalogue, I am indebted to
Godfrey Wedgwood, Esq. ; for the block of the antique ' Pene-
lope ' (from Smith's Classical Dictionary) to Hallam Murray,

The name of the clever artist, often called the ' Scottish
Wedgwood,' must not be omitted — James Tassie, the great
modeller and reproducer of antique gems — one of the celebrities
of the last century, of whom Wedgwood said he was ' an admir-
able artist and an honourable man, whom it is a credit to
emulate.' James Tassie, born in Glasgow, 1735, began life as a
stonemason, and had some reputation as a sculptor. Inspired
by the Foulis collection of pictures, he began seriously to study
as an artist. In 1763 he removed to Dublin, and practised as a
sculptor and modeller. He then turned his attention to making-
exact facsimiles of antique gems in texture and colour, with so
much success that he was able to deceive the owner of a valu-
able gem which he had been commissioned to reproduce by
sending him the copy first, when it was put carefully away as
the orio^inal. Tassie settled in London in 1766, and continued

the reproduction of antique g^ems and portraits modelled from
life. Wedgwood, in his first production of intaglios and cameos,
used Tassie's casts for this purpose ; but the engagement of
Flaxman and other modellers in his direct employ super-
seded Tassie's designs ; but Wedgwood's earliest portraits were
often made from Tassie's original models. Tassie reproduced
over twelve thousand gems from antique and modern designs.
But Tassie's artistic reputation is due to his excellent portrait
medallions, taken directly from life and reproduced in an opaque
enamel glass-paste. Many celebrated men of his time sat to
him, and their features are permanently recorded in his fragile
but imperishable material. Tassie did not use coloured grounds :
the field white as the relief, in some cases scored to represent a
carved ivory. An excellent plan adopted by Tassie was to sign
and date his portraits, and so avoiding any future difficulty in
identification. Usually the full inscription appears under the
shoulder of the portrait in this manner : 'John Hunter, D.D.,
1795. Tassie, F' Wedgwood's portraits sometimes have the
name impressed upon the field, but never the date ; and there
are more examples unnamed, some that may never be identified.
James Tassie died, 1799. His work was continued by his
nephew, William Tassie, a skilful modeller and artist, who died
in i860. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery has a good
collection of Tassie's portraits. An excellent biography of Tassie
was written by the late John M. Gray, then curator of the
Gallery (1894).

JosiAH Wedgwood, F.R.S., potter and inventor, whose
ancestors had been workers in this earliest-known handicraft,
was born at Burslem, in Staffordshire, 1730. That district, in

the valley of the Western Trent, now called ' the Potteries,' had
been a favourite locality for the exercise of the potter's industry
from very remote times. Its unfailing supply of natural clays,
vast forests, streams, and other advantages could not fail to
attract the primitive potters, who there produced domestic and
ornamental wares for distribution to all parts of the kingdom.
The quaint inlaid tiles for the floors of the abbeys and monas-
teries were produced here and sent away by the rivers Trent,
Severn, and Avon, then, as in earlier times, the chief arteries
of transit.

The old methods of manufacture continued. The few
changes in the shape and ornamentation of the pottery were
due to the influence of foreign emigrants, who would have a
preference for the form and decoration in use in their native
country, as we may notice the many changes of shape in the
domestic spoon of the last three centuries, due to the changing
fashion prompted by the Dutch, German, and Hanoverian

At the time of Wedgwood's advent, the pottery industry was
gradually undergoing a change. The general use of tea and
coffee demanded suitable vessels, which had been hitherto indif-
ferently supplied by importing expensive porcelain from China
and Japan, — only within the reach of wealthy consumers.
Staffordshire met this demand with the light, graceful pottery
known as ' salt-glaze ' ; plain or decorated from the then only
available models — the Oriental patterns.

Wedgwood's earliest work as a potter was the improvement
of the useful domestic ware then in fashion, the invention of
new bodies and material, colours, and new methods of manufac-
ture. His tortoise-shell, agate, mottled, and other coloured
pieces were distinct creations, and soon found a ready sale. In
due time he invented the pale cream-coloured 'Queen's ware,'
so named in compliment to his patron, Queen Charlotte. He
supplemented the use of the primitive potter's wheel by after-
wards turning his ware upon an improved lathe. He was the


actual inventor of at least twenty new bodies for the manufacture
of earthenware, many of which are in use to this day.

From youth to age the great potter never enjoyed robust
health. When young, he suffered from a severe attack of small-
pox, leaving complications that in later life so affected one leg,
it necessitated amputation, a martyrdom that was possibly a
benefit to his country, as Mr. Gladstone has well observed —

' It is not often that we have such palpable occasion to record our
obligations to smallpox. But, in the wonderful ways of Providence, that
disease, which came to him as a twofold scourge, was probably the occa-
sion of his subsequent excellence. It prevented him from growing up to
be the active, vigorous English workman, possessed of all his limbs, and
knowing right well the use of them ; but it put him upon considering
whether, as he could not be that, he might not be something else, and
something greater. It sent his mind inwards ; it drove him to meditate
upon the laws and secrets of his art. The result was that he arrived at
a perception and a grasp of them which might, perhaps, have been envied,
certainly have been owned, by an Athenian potter.'

The estimate of Wedgwood's useful life may be given by his
quaint epitaph in the church of Stoke-on-Trent : ' Who converted
a rude and inconsiderable Manufactory into an elegant Art, and
an important part of National Commerce' (' manufactory ' meaning
manufacture). The forty-two master-potters of Staffordshire, from
1 710 to 1715, by their united efforts could only produce earthen-
ware to the annual value of ^6417, compared with 1785, when
Wedgwood gave evidence in the House of Commons that upwards
of fifteen thousand persons were then directly employed in the
manufacture, and double that number in auxiliary occupations in
connection with the industry — in preparing clay, flint, coals, and
other materials required by the potters. This estimate is of course
much extended now, the last available statistics (1896) giving
45,914 persons in direct employ, the annual amount of wages over
^2,000,000, and the assumed value of ;/^3, 850,000 for home trade
and exportation.

In addition to his valuable services to the staple trade of
Staffordshire, he devoted much time and energy to the improve-
ment of the roads and means of communication of the district.


In 1760 the only method of transport was the pack-horse, the
nearest highway road was at Lawton, In the next county.
Through his exertions new roads were made, and others
improved. The Grand Junction Canal, from the Mersey to the
Trent, was projected, with Wedgwood as honorary treasurer to
the company. Its effect, Mr. Gladstone remarked, 'made the
raw material of his industry abundant and cheap, which supplied
a vent for the manufactured article, and which opened for it
materially a way to what we may term the conquest of the
outer world.'

So far these remarks apply chiefly to the period of Wedg-
wood's useful earthenware: 'Wedgwood ware.' The collector
fully understands the meaning of 'Old Wedgwood.' Indeed,
we have Wedgwood's own authority for the classification, for in
a letter to his partner, Thomas Bentley (1770), he says —

* May not useful ware be comprehended under the simple definition
of such vessels as are made use of at meals. This appears to one to be
the most simple and natural line, and though it does not take in wash-
hand basins and bottles, and a few such articles, they are of little con-
sequence, and speak for themselves. ... I am getting some boxes made
neatly, and lined with silk or some fine stuff, to keep and show the tablets
(plaques) in. We should use every means in our power to make our
customers believe they are not The Ware.'

Wedgwood, in the progress of his manufacture, illustrated
the sentiment of the inscription in the entrance-hall of the
Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum : ' By the gains of
Industry we promote Art.' He acquired a considerable fortune
by the production and sale of his domestic ware for the civilised
world ; then, with the strength of his financial position, he turned
his attention to the ornamental or decorative pieces, attracting
to his service the most renowned artists of his time, improving

some of the materials then in daily use, and in due time invent-
ing and perfecting that most beautiful body ever adopted in
ceramic art — the 'Jasper.' Until this body was completed and
reliable — only after continued experiment ; surmounting failure
by constant attention — the finest work was impossible, and,
except in the basalte and agate bodies, was not attempted. But
a time came when he could write to his partner, ' We are now-
absolute with the jasper.'

The jasper pieces are the collector's 'Old Wedgwood,' of
which this exhibition includes many important examples, coming
from celebrated collections formed during the last century, and
acquired when it was possible to secure them. The pages of a
catalogue do not allow of much criticism — a personal examina-
tion of the objects catalogued may be of greater profit.

But much has been written upon this subject during the last
half-century by many celebrated writers, giving unqualified testi-
mony to the character and genius of the great potter. All are
worth perusing : a few examples may be given. Lord Lytton, in
his England and the English (1835), says —

' There have, for some time past, been various complaints of a
deficiency of artists capable of designing for our manufactures of porce-
lain, silk, and other articles of luxury in general use ; we are told that
public schools are required to supply the want. It may be so, yet
Wedgwood, Rundell, and Hellicot the watchmaker found no such diffi-
culty, and now that a Royal Academy has existed for sixty-five years,
the complaint has become universal. One would imagine that the main
capacity of such institutions was to create that decent and general
mediocrity of talent which appeals to trade and fashion for encourage-
ment. In truth, the complaint is not just. How did Wedgwood manage
without a public school for designers? In 1760, our porcelain wares
could not stand competition with those of France. Necessity prompts,
or what is quite as good, allows the exertions of genius. Wedgwood
applied chemistry to the improvement of his pottery, sought the most
beautiful and convenient specimens of antiquity, and caused them to be
imitated with scrupulous nicety ; he tJien (the italics are Lord Lytton's)
had recourse to the greatest genius of the day for designs and advice. But
now the manufacturers of a far more costly material, without availing
themselves of the example of Wedgwood, complain of want of talent
in those whom they never sought, and whom they might as easily com-
mand, if they were as willing to reward.'


The Right Hon, W. E. Gladstone, who in 1863 made his
eloquent address upon the opening of the Wedgwood Institute
at Burslem, at a period three years before Miss Meteyard's Life
of Wedgivood was published, illustrated with his usual facility
Wedgwood's life, work, and character. He remarks —

' I call him the great Wedgwood. That is the proper epithet for him.
In my opinion, and I have considered the matter as well as I can, Wedg-
wood was the greatest man who ever, in any age, or in any country — I
do not except, as far as our knowledge goes, any age or any country —
applied himself to the important work of uniting art with industry.
The industrial development brought about by Wedgwood was wonderful.
He made this country a great exporting country for his own wares.
You know the meaning of that. What he manufactured was so much
better than what other countries could make for themselves, that they
were delighted to send here to buy it, and pay all the cost of carrying it
to St. Petersburg on one side and the Mississippi on the other, to the
extremities of civilisation, to avail themselves of the benefit brought
about by the genius of that man. There is one particular point which
I have always considered to be among the most significant and interest-
ing in the work of Wedgwood, and that is the unvarying attention which
in his works he gave to the question of form. Now, pray remember,
that we may always distinguish between the different constituents of
work of art. There is the form, there is the colour, and there is the
character of ornamentation ; but the form is the true foundation of the
whole, just as in architecture. You see what a bad architect will do.
He will think very little of form or proportion, and he will plaster his
building all over with ornament, and ornament is constantly used to
disguise the poverty and perversion of form. Wedgwood completely
revolutionised the character of the fabrics made in England at the period.
He recalled into existence the spirit of Greek art. Before his time, we
may say of the earthenware and porcelain manufacture that it had never
risen to the loftiness of the spirit of Greek art. If you compare the famous
porcelain of Sevres, the vases of Sevres with the vases of Wedgwood, I
don't hesitate to say they are greatly inferior. If you pass your eye
along this line of productions of the eighteenth century in England,
although there are very good forms in others, those of Wedgwood stand
pre-eminent. Though in all his productions you are reminded of Greek
art, they are not mere reproductions. His style is strikingly original.'

In the same address, Mr. Gladstone pointed out a curious
German criticism upon Wedgwood, in which the great potter is
likened to Goethe! This was written by Novalis {Fragmente :
Aisthetik unci Literatur) : ' Goethe ist ganz praktischer Dichter.



Er ist in seinen Werken, was der Englander in seinen Waaren
ist : hochst einfach, nett, bequem und dauerhaft. Er hat in der
deutschen Literatur das oethan, was Wedowood in der enoHschen
Kunstwelt gethan hat.'^

Civilised nations are justly proud of the art-work produced
in their country. Wedgwood ceramics deserve all possible
veneration by his countrymen from the fact that the art is
essentially a British one ; thought out and produced by a
worthy native, who had never travelled beyond the limits of
his country, who encouraged native artists and workmen for its
production. His great work was completed without state aid,
helped only by the popular appreciation of his manufacture.

The honoured names of inventors and others who have
developed the resources of our country are found in the peerage,
but the name of Wedowood is not mentioned. The dilioent
man of business standeth before kinsfs. Other nations have
fully recognised Wedgwood's services to the ceramic industry.
His first patron was the munificent Empress Catharine of Russia,
for whom he made the grand table service, decorated with views
of English country-seats. Continental orders were continually
sent to Etruria, his best customers beings the Court and aristo-
cracy of France, during the renowned art periods, the reigns of
Louis XV. and xvi. So much fine Wedgwood was then imported
into France that the Royal factory of Sevres copied the colour
and relief of his jasper plaques and vases in competition. The
standard reading-books of the American National Schools include
an account of his life and work, and every American child is
familiar with the story.

^ Which has been rendered : ' Goethe is a very practical poet. He is in his works what an
Englishman is in his business, thoroughly simple, clear, accessible,' and conclusive. He has done
for German literature what Wedgwood has for the domain of art. '

That Wedgwood's memory is still kept green by other nations
is evident from the pathetic incident that occurred in 1895, the
centenary of Wedgwood's death ; when the town of Stoke-on-
Trent received a wreath sent direct from a potter in Silesia, with
a request that it should be laid upon the great potter's grave, as
a tribute from a living potter to the memory of one who was
universally esteemed as the greatest master of his craft.

F. Rathbone.

Sacred to the Memory of

Of Etruria in this county.

Born, August 1730. Died, January 3rd, 1795.

Who converted a rude and inconsiderable

Manufactory into an elegant Art and
An important part of National Commerce.


Designed by

^*4(. // i's proposed to issue a Large Paper (Juarto Edition
of this Catalogue, with many Extra Photographic Illus-
trations of some of the ftoted examples. The Editiott will
be limited and for Subscribers only. Prospectus and Price
jnay be obtained by addressing

Mr. F. Rathbofte,

20 Alfred Place West,

South Kensington,









The potter's mark upon ceramics is of great interest to the historian,
student, and collector. The custom of marking dates from very remote
times, and may even have originated with the ancient potter, for nearly
every piece of the Roman red-ware, the so-called Samian, bears a clearly
stamped mark in some form. This mark is usually found upon the
inside of the vessel at the bottom — sometimes on the outside. The name
on a label, given in the nominative with F for fecit, or in the genitive
with O, or OF, or M, for officina or nianu : thus, SABINVS F, Sabhius fecit
(Sabinus made it), AMICI M, Aniici nianu (by the hand of Amicus), OF.
FELIC, officina Felicis (from the workshop of Felix). We may form some
estimate of the importance of the potter's craft under the Roman rule
from the fact that Mr. Thomas Wright could give, in 1853, a list of
potters' stamps on Samian ware, Mortaria, and the handles of Amphorae,
numbering over eleven hundred separate marks. This list, from examples
found since that time, could be much extended.

The system of marking was not confined to the potter. The Roman
mason was in the habit of inscribing his initials or other ornament upon
his handiwork. Painters, sculptors, engravers, goldsmiths, carvers in
wood and metal, and other craftsmen, marked their work with initials,
emblems, or some fanciful design. Some engravers of the middle ages
are only known from their adopted mark, no account of their lives, works,
or even their names existing : ' The master of the Die,' from his mark of
a small die used in dice-playing ; ' The master of 1474,' from his sign ' 74 '
found upon his plates. Companies and Guilds in many cities adopted a



distinct badge for the work of their members, or other pieces they had
approved. When the factory system for the production of pottery and

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Online LibraryArthur SandersonA catalogue of a collection of plaques, medallions, vases, figures, &c., in coloured jasper and basalte : → online text (page 1 of 10)