The Artistic Development of English Pottery

It was not until the last century that English potters made any progress in the artistic development of their productions ; previous to that time objects of common baked material for household uses alone had been made. Towards the middle of the XVIIIth century several factories with artistic pretensions were founded, the principal of which were Bow, about 1735 ; Chelsea, 1735; Bow Chelsea, 1749 ; Astbury (Wedgwood), 1750; Derby, 1751 ; Worcester, 1751 ; Stoke-upon-Trent, 1778 ; Swansea, 1790, and others. All of these factories seemed to have used kaolin from the start, and, therefore, to have produced a kind of porcelain some of which is translucent and some opaque. Soft paste was made at Bow, Chelsea, Derby, Worcester, and an intermediate porcelain at Bow Chelsea and Stoke-upon-Trent.

Porcelain of all kinds was made at Astbury, where Josiah Wedgwood was born in 1730, and died in 1795. This remarkable man, the pioneeer in the production of artistic porcelain in England, introduced and worked in many styles, but copied more than he invented. One of . the most important of his successes was that he attracted the interest of persons of rank, who previously in England had paid no attention to the art; in this he was greatly aided by his partner, Thomas Bentley.

Much of the later success of Wedgwood was due to the excellent taste and beautiful designs of the sculptor, John Flaxman, whom he first employed about the year 1775. Flaxman, after completing his art studies at the Royal Academy, located in London, and furnished both drawings and modellings ; subsequently, in the year 1787, he went to Rome, whence he continued those classical compositions which have made the Wedgwood ware so noted.

Whatever was accomplished in England in this branch of art was accomplished by individual efforts, unaided by royal patronage.