With over 3,500 objects on display in the V&A Wedgwood Collection galleries, it’s difficult to choose any favourites!
Below are some of the highlights spanning four centuries and over 260 years of creation and innovation.
The V&A Wedgwood Collection tours are currently self-guided.
First Day’s Vase Black Basalt - 1769
The vase is one of six 'thrown' by Josiah Wedgwood himself to mark the successful opening of the Etruria manufactory on 13 June 1769. There are two on display in the Collection galleries.
Portland Vase Black Jasper with White Reliefs - 1790
The Portland vase is perhaps Josiah’s most important piece and considered one of the greatest technical achievements of the potter’s art. Taking over three years of trials and experimentation to perfect, the first perfect copy was made in October 1789.
Tray of Jasper Trials - 1773
Each trial piece is marked with a number that corresponds to an entry in Wedgwood’s ‘Experiment Book’. Many pieces are impressed with the firing instructions, for example ‘TTBO’ for 'tip-top of biscuit oven’
Pâte-sur-pâte Vase Parian - 1878
This term means, quite literally, paste upon paste and refers to the slow building up layer by layer of slip or dilute clay allowing for the creation of delicate and translucent decoration. This vase is possibly the work of Frederick Rhead.
Lobster Bowl Queen’s Ware 1880 – 85
Salad bowl decorated with lobster, with matching salad servers reflecting the Victorian enthusiasm for exploration and discovery of new flora and fauna. It is printed and painted in enamel colours.
Bust of Venus Parian 1849
Wedgwood’s version of parian was introduced into production at Etruria around 1948. The bust of Venus was included in a list of ware displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and cost 30 shillings when it was purchased new in February 1949.
Bicentenary Vase 1930
To mark the bicentenary celebration of the birth of Josiah Wedgwood, an open international competition was held to design a vase. Many eminent artists entered, the winning design by Danish painter and ceramicist Emmanuel Tjerne, included bas-reliefs of the ‘Four Elements’ in an Art Deco style.
Wild Strawberry Collection 1965
The Wild Strawberry collection was designed by Robert Minkin in 1964, at the time Minkin was Wedgwood’s Chief Designer and in 1979 he became Design Director. The rim of 22-carat gold completes the decoration of the elegant and whimsical collection which is still one of the most popular designs.
Man and Space, Bone China 1976-77
In 1976, Glenys Barton was invited to be the artist in residence at Barlaston. She was provided with the facilities of the factory to develop her individualistic ceramic sculptures. Her pieces were subsequently exhibited in London in June 1977.
Doll’s House Advent Calendar, Porcelain 2014
Inspired by Georgian architecture, the limited edition ceramic advent calendar has a delightful new ornament behind each individually numbered door.