The appearance in Great Britain of classical ceramics collected by Sir William Hamilton during...
The appearance in Great Britain of classical ceramics collected by Sir William Hamilton during his stay in Naples as British ambassador--and the engraved documentation of those vessels--did much to promote the British fashion for neoclassical design. Josiah Wedgwood, a pioneer in marketing as in so many other endeavors, pursued this public interest with his "encaustic" decoration on basalt. The results ranged from elaborate full-scale vases with figural decoration in the Greek manner to functional pieces like tea wares adorned more chastely with borders derived from the Hamilton examples.
Here a simple creamer receives a distinctive border executed in white and orange-red, derived from the classical anthemion motif. Fine pin striping defines the handle and rims.. The decoration, achieved with Wedgwood's own formula, duplicated the flat surface of ancient vase painting.
While the interiors of vases and other decorative objects are often left unglazed, the "useful wares," such as this creamer are often found with glazed interiors. While the unglazed basalt body was generally watertight, it was not impervious to staining.
|Date:||1770 to 1790|
|Dimensions:||Height 2 7/8 in.; length 4 3/4 in.; diameter at rim 2 3/4 in.; diameter at foot 3/4 in.|
Regarding the so-called "encaustic" decoration, Wedgwood admitted his technique of emulating...
Regarding the so-called "encaustic" decoration, Wedgwood admitted his technique of emulating the decoration of Sir William's vases had little in common with the methods of the ancients. The red figure designs found on the original pieces were created by outlining the figure on a red ground body, then painting the background, with a type of slip, either black or white thinned with stale wine or urine to promote an even flow over the surface. Details of the figures were painted in black with details touched in using a slip diluted to a pale brown color. Wedgwood developed a far less complicated technique using specially developed flat colors composed of a combination of enamel and liquid slip, which could be painted on his basalt body and fired to create the effect of ancient decoration. (Robin Reilly. Wedgwood Vol.I, pp. 409-410).