Uniting Art and Industry

JOSIAH WEDGWOOD: FATHER OF ENGLISH POTTERS

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Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) was primarily a potter, but he was also a scientist, pioneer, philanthropist, family man, supreme marketer and innovative businessman.

He was one of the most enterprising eighteenth-century industrialists and his products were amongst the most highly prized and desirable of the period. His activity turned the Stoke-on-Trent district into a centre for manufacturing high-quality and well-designed ceramics.

Josiah Wedgwood had a rare grasp of the physics and chemistry of the potter’s craft, learnt both from practical experience as well as books, and was sensitive to changing fashions and tastes, particularly during the 1760s and 1770s. Almost instinctively, he responded by adapting designs, creating new shapes and patterns and introducing new materials, which put him beyond the reach of his contemporary competitors.

Wedgwood also possessed exceptional vision and daring in the promotion of his wares. A self-taught man and polymath of colossal energy and ambition he earned the tribute paid to him by William Ewart Gladstone who, in 1863, commented that Wedgwood was 'the greatest man who ever, in any age or country, applied himself to the important work of uniting art with industry'.

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Wedgwood Enlightenment

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