From September 2009, the National Gallery of Victoria will celebrate the 250th anniversary of Wedgwood. Featuring over 70 works drawn from the NGV’s internationally acclaimed Wedgwood holdings, the display will pay tribute to one of the most famous designers of decorative arts, a leading figure in the rise of neo-classical taste in the 18th century.
In 1759 Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795) established his first pottery studio in Burslem, Staffordshire. During the eighteenth century the factory’s success grew through Wedgwood’s development of numerous wares including his most famous innovation, jasper ware – matt coloured stoneware decorated with applied white ornamentation.
Dr Gerard Vaughan, NGV Director said: “We are proud to be celebrating this important milestone in the history of European taste.
“The NGV has an outstanding collection of Wedgwood – amongst the best anywhere – the depth of which is largely due to the generous benefaction of Keith and Norma Deutsher. This display celebrates both the superb craftsmanship of Wedgwood over 250 years, and the inspiring generosity of the Deutshers,” said Dr Vaughan.
Josiah Wedgwood was one of the greatest innovators of the eighteenth century. His passion for experimentation, his sensitivity to fashion trends as well as his great entrepreneurial skills, made Wedgwood one of the most successful ceramic manufacturers of the eighteenth century.
A self-taught man of extraordinary energy and vision, Josiah Wedgwood has been acclaimed as a champion of English neo-classical taste as well as a pioneer potter, industrialist and marketeer.
Although during the early nineteenth century the factory’s fortunes declined, from the 1840s it began to regain its former prestige and in the late twentieth century the factory was best known for its extensive production of high quality table and ornamental wares. Today Wedgwood is a household name.
Since 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria has been displaying art works for the enjoyment of the community. In the mid-1990s, the gallery acknowledged that its St Kilda Road building could no longer successfully meet the demands of its growing collection and extensive exhibitions schedule.
The Victorian State Government agreed to an extensive redevelopment of the site, and also contribute towards the funding of a second NGV building at Federation Square.
The Collection is split between The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square, home of Australian art, and NGV International at St Kilda Road, the redeveloped building dedicated to the gallery’s magnificent international artworks. Our visitors have two wonderful NGV buildings dedicated to bringing art and people together.
Wedgwood: Celebrating 250 Years will be on display in the Decorative Arts Passage at NGV International, St Kilda Road from September 2009 to late 2010. NGV International is open 10am–5pm, closed Tuesdays. Entry to this display is free.
Image: Wedgwood, Staffordshire manufacturer. England est. 1759. John Flaxman modeller(England 1726–95), Homer vase c.1800, stoneware (blue jasper) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Mr Keith M. Deutsher, Founder Benefactor, 1993