• Explore the fascinating links between the Wedgwood brand and rulers from all corners and time periods of Europe.

Wedgwood and Royalty

  • by Carenza Price

Queen's ware husk service dish

Theme

This 18th century dish has a hand pierced edge and was hand painted in rose-purple enamel in the manner of James Bakewell's queensware, which often featured floral specimens. The dish comes from the Husk service, a dinner and dessert service intended for 24 people. The service was produced on 'Queen's shape' and decorated with hand painted rose-purple flowers in the centre and a border of sways of wheat husks, hence the name 'Husk' service. The service was ordered by Catherine the Great, so had to be shipped to Russia. This meant the entire service had to be completed before winter or the service would never make it to port due to the freezing conditions. Because of this haste, they had to opt for a simpler 'Husk' design to ensure completion for the Russian empress.

The design was immensley popular, with George III and Queen Charlotte ordering a similar service on seeing the original before it was shipped to Russia. Pieces with the same decoration have even been found as far afield as America, in the governor's house in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, proving the popularity of the hand painted design.

Catherine the Great was regarded by Josiah Wedgwood as his 'great patroness of the north' and described her as ' a woman of sense, fine taste and spirit' due to her loyalty to Wedgwood products. After ordering the Husk service, she went on to place a mammoth order for a dinner and dessert service comprising of 952 pieces, each hand painted with a unique scene of British countryside (there are 1244 scenes painted in total). This became known as the Frog service, so called for the frog crest painted on every piece. The majority of the service is still in Russia, having somehow survived the Revolution and two world wars. Catherine also bought several jasper plaques and ornamental wares from Wedgwood, again proving her loyalty. Catherine's interest in Wedgwood was also idealogical, due to her well known Anglophilia. The political structure of Britain was the model she hoped to emulate with her reforms of the Russian constitution. Ordering large services, like the Husk service, from British manufacturers were small, yet highly visible gestures towards Britain and reflected the growing Anglomania at the time.

Catalogue

Dish with hand pierced edge, possibly a stand for an oval basket; hand painted in rose-purple enamel in the manner of James Bakewell Queen's ware C. 1770