Josiah Wedgwood apprenticed with the potter Thomas Whieldon until 1759, when he gained enough money through marriage to set up his own business, Josiah Wedgwood and Sons. A factor in his success with pottery were his industrial innovations, especially his development of a way to measure kiln temperature accurately.
A few years after opening shop, he created a new pottery form which attracted the attention of the queen consort Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Called "queen's ware, it was sought after throughout Europe.
He developed several new types of wares, among them basaltware, queensware, and caneware, but is best known for his jasperware, styled after the Portland vase, a Roman antiquity then owned by the third Duke of Portland [now in the British Museum].
The vase was made with cameo glass technique in which two layers of glass, the outer being whire, are blown together and then the white layer is carved as a cameo relief. The cameo subjects are often mythological. The Duke lent the vase to Wedgwood to study and Wedgwood developed a ceramic style along the same lines. Although Wedgwood made jasperware in several colors, usually with a white overlay, the first color, and the one that instantly springs to mind when thinking of Wedgwood is Portland blue, which color he developed to most closely recreate the look of the portland vase.
Jasperware was developed not only as tableware, vases, and trinket boxes, but also as cameo jewelry and as medallion reliefs of noble patrons. Wedgwood also developed a hard paste bone china to compete with fine Chinese export porcelain.
The Wedgwood business was passed down from father to son or uncle to nephew for six generations.The first non-Wedgwood was Arthur Bryan, who took the helm in 1968. In 1987 Wedgwood was acquired by Waterford, creating Waterford Wedgwood, an Ireland-based luxury brands group.
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