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Queen's ware and Black Basalt 'Stella' fish tail ewer - 1775-80

Queen's ware and Black Basalt 'Stella' fish tail ewer, © Wedgwood Museum
    Queen's ware and Black Basalt 'Stella' fish tail ewer
    © Wedgwood Museum

This design was based on a vase designed by Stella in his book on the title page 'Livre de Vases' (book of vases). It has two heads on each side and raised swags around the top of the body of the vase and a fish tail handle. It was further dramatised by the addition of scales to the fish tail handle and increasing the height of the plinth. The vase has been produced in Queen's ware which has been sponged to resemble porphyry, and stands on a Black Basalt base.

This design was based on a vase designed by Stella in his book on the title page 'Livre de Vases' (book of vases). It has two heads on each side and raised swags around the top of the body of the vase and a fish tail handle. It was further dramatised by the addition of scales to the fish tail handle and increasing the height of the plinth. The vase has been produced in Queen's ware which has been sponged to resemble porphyry, and stands on a Black Basalt base. Although Wedgwood was heavily influenced by classical antiquity this vase is more fantastical in nature and evidences how Josiah I used a wide variety of influences for his vases which further increased their popularity as was the demand for vases at this time in the years around 1770.

  • Type of object: Ornamental ware/ewer
  • Mark: 'Wedgwood & Bentley: Etruria' in applied in circular seal
  • Year produced: 1775-80
  • Body: Black Basalt, Queen's ware, cream-coloured earthenware
  • Decoration: porphyry
  • Accession number: WMT/2011/09/02
  • Dimensions: 275 mm (height) 185 mm (width)

Other images

Related people

  • Jacques Stella

    Jacques Stella (1596 - 1657)

    French painter, draftsman & printmaker born 1594- died 1657. Also known as: C. Stella, Jacques Stallard, Jacques Stalard, Jacques Star. Nationality: French. Son of: Francois Stella (François Stella) (1563-1605). Uncle of: Antoine Bouzonnet-Stella (1637-1682) Teacher of: Georges Charmeton (1623-1674). Main field of work painting, the movement he followed whislt living in Rome was Classicism of . He was heavily Influenced by the work of Nicolas Poussin who was a good friend and Florentine art. A book of etchings and engravings was produced in 1667 after his death called 'Livre de Vases' which Josiah Wedgwood took influence from in 1770.

Glossary

  • Black Basalt

    Black Basalt

    A fine-grained black stoneware body, composed of ball clay, calcined ochre and manganese oxide. Josiah Wedgwood developed Black Basalt in 1768 to replace the earlier ‘black Egyptian’ ware produced in Staffordshire in the mid-eighteenth century. 

     

    Basalt was described by Josiah Wedgwood as ‘A fine black Porcelain, having nearly the same properties as the Basaltes i.e., the mineral rock', resisting the Attack of Acids; being a Touch-stone to Copper, Silver and Gold, and equal in Hardness to Agate or Porphyry'. It was the result of his experiments to perfect fine-grained stoneware suitable for the production of ornamental pieces, one that would complement the neo-classical styles then coming into vogue. It is probable that Wedgwood was experimenting with a basalt body in September 1767. He wrote to Bentley, ‘I am still going on with my tryals, & want much to shew you some of them'. Certainly within 12 months Basalt was generally available. From 1773 Wedgwood's plain-black body became universally known as ‘basaltes'. Both ornamental and useful wares were produced in this versatile body and it was used to make virtually anything the public required. Wedgwood placed great confidence in his material, predicting that ‘Black is Sterling and will last for ever'.

    Black clay was derived from ‘Carr', an oxide of iron suspended in the water that had flowed through coal seams and mines. This was drained and dried and then sold by the cartload to potters for use in the production of basalt pottery. Wedgwood made no secret of his recipe for Basalt, which he recorded on page 236 of ‘Common Place Book I. The entry is dated 1777, and reads:

    ‘Our Black Basalt Body. 80 of ball clay sifted 80 of Carr [ochre] calcined & ground 9 of manganese. The above is one Blending.'

    When these ingredients were fired together at a high temperature they vitrified into a fine-textured black body. The distinctive colour of Wedgwood's Basalt, which has a deep purplish-black hue, is due to the high proportion of manganese included in the formula.

     

     

  • 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.