A happy ending and a new beginning

A pair of black basalt ware vases by Wedgwood & Bentley, 1770-5, in the Library at Saltram. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

A pair of black basalt ware vases by Wedgwood & Bentley, 1770-5, in the Library at Saltram. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

It was recently announced that a public appeal organised by the Art Fund to prevent the Wedgwood Museum collection from being sold had been successful.

The Wedgwood breakfast service in the China Room at Penrhyn Castle. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Wedgwood breakfast service in the China Room at Penrhyn Castle. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Because the Wedgwood Museum Trust shared a pension fund with Waterford Wedgwood plc, it became responsible for a huge pension deficit when the company went into administration in 2009.

Black basalt Wedgwood bust of the actor David Garrick (1717-79) in the Book Room at Wimpole Hall. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Black basalt Wedgwood bust of the actor David Garrick (1717-79) in the Book Room at Wimpole Hall. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

As a result, the Wedgwood Museum collection of more than 80,000 pieces was under threat from being broken up. But the Art Fund’s appeal was supported by a large grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, by other grants from private trusts and foundations, and by gifts from 4,000 members of the public.

A pair of Wedgwood earthenware vases, c.1765, in the Library at Saltram. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

A pair of Wedgwood earthenware vases, c.1765, in the Library at Saltram. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Ownership of the collection will be transferred to the Victoria and Albert Museum, but it will remain on display at the Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston.

Two black Wedgwood vases on the corner of the fireplace in the Morning Room at Saltram. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Two black Wedgwood vases on the corner of the fireplace in the Morning Room at Saltram. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Wedgwood Museum website shows some of the amazing objects in the collection, illustrating the spirit of innovation of the company’s eighteenth-century founder, Josiah Wedgwood, and the ingenuity and elegance of the company’s products.

Wedgwood Queen's Ware cream bowl, decorated with views of Shugborough and Richmond Castle, at Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire. ©National Trust Images/Mark Fiennes

Wedgwood Queen’s Ware cream bowl, decorated with views of Shugborough and Richmond Castle, at Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire. ©National Trust Images/Mark Fiennes

This post features just some of the many Wedgwood items that survive in the historic houses of the National Trust, from table wares to decorative objects and including classical motifs as well as contemporary celebrities. Wedgwood’s influence is – and remains – everywhere.

8 Responses to “A happy ending and a new beginning”

  1. Chronica Domus Says:

    I was delighted to read of the news that the collection will remain intact and in it’s rightful home. I had the great privilege of visiting the museum many years ago and I felt very sad when I heard that everything would be scattered to the winds if funding was not found to save it. This is a happy outcome indeed.

  2. Eagle-Eyed Editor Says:

    Josiah would be so pleased. 🙂

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Chronica Domus and Eagle-Eyed Editor, I agree!

  4. Deana Sidney Says:

    I was just writing about Erasmus Darwin, a great friend of Josiah. While researching I found out the incredible story of the museum and the way it was almost lost. Incredible the way the nation stood up and said no to a horrible injustice that nearly destroyed a collection that could never be assembled again. Thanks for the glorious taste of Wedgwood at Trust houses. I hope the museum upgrades their site now that they have had all the great exposure. It would be lovely to virtually visit their sublime pieces.

  5. John Harrison Says:

    Emile, another excellent piece, thank you very much for sharing this with us. Another important element of the Wedgwood collection was their creation of the Green Frog service for Catherine the Great (http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/explore/collections/master/sub/1252399467/?lng=). The service is decorated with views of various english country houses, including Stourhead. One piece helpfully shows the Turkish Tent that used to stand on the hillside overlooking the Pantheon. Best wishes, John Harrison

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Deana, yes the Art Fund said it was the fastest response to any of their appeals, reaching its target well before the deadline.

    John, I didn’t know Stourhead featured on the Green Frog Service, how fascinating. A wonderful branding and marketing project, that service, but then Josiah Wedgwood was generally rather adept at that, wasn’t he?

  7. Andrew Says:

    Green frog service view of Stourhead? Is that this dish at the V&A? http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1254548/dish-wedgwood/

    No image there, but I wonder if it is the same one here – http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/digital-collection/08.+Applied+Arts/250821/?lng=en

  8. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Andrew, yes that would seem to be the one. Trust you to find these 🙂 – well done and thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: