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Wedgwood: A Living Tradition

DATES April 14, 1948 through September 6, 1948
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
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  • April 14, 1948: On Tuesday, April 13, the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Wedgwood ever shown will open at the Brooklyn Museum with a preview for Museum members and invited guests. The exhibition will open to the public on April 14 and will remain on view through September 26.

    The exhibition will consist of material brought from England especially for this exhibition and never before shown outside of Britain. All of the objects have been loaned to the exhibit by the Wedgwood Museum, Etruria, Staffordshire, England, and by members of the Wedgwood family which has played such an important part in the history and development of English ceramics and commerce, without interruption, since the year 1612.

    Every phase and the evolution of Wedgwood from the time of the early slip and stone wares to modern china will be covered. Steps in the manufacture of various types will be illustrated and explained. Molds, trials, and a copy of the famous Portland vase, medallions and cameos, jewelry, furniture, early documents, and family portraits will round out the story of Wedgwood.

    After its showing in Brooklyn, the Museum is planning to circulate the exhibition to representative museums in the United States.

    Photographs are available on request

    For further information call John Gordon Nevins 8-5000

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1947 - 1952. 01-03/1948, 009. View Original
  • April 14, 1948: Press Preview: Friday, April 9th and Monday, April 12th

    The exhibition WEDGWOOD - A LIVING TRADITION opened last night at the Brooklyn Museum with a private view for Museum members and invited guests. The exhibition was opened by Sir Francis Evans, K.C.M.G., His Britannic Majesty’s Consul General to New York, and Hensleigh C. Wedgwood, a member of the 10th generation of Wedgwood potters. It consists of material never before seen in this country and brought here especially for this showing. The exhibit which was planned and installed by Mr. John M. Graham II, Curator of Decorative Arts of the Brooklyn Museum, is now open to the public and will remain on view through September 6 after which date the Brooklyn Museum is planning to circulate it to many of the major museums throughout the country.

    The exhibition consists of over 600 pieces and is perhaps the  largest exhibition of Wedgwood ever held. It is virtually a  history of ceramics as told by the accomplishments of ten generations of one family: from the days of Gilbert Wedgwood, first Wedgwood potter working at his crude handicraft in 1649, to the vast industry which employs every modern technique in the manufacture of pottery in 1948.

    The exhibition shows the evolution of Wedgwood beginning with early types and a group of agate and marbled ware excavated at the old Whieldon-Wedgwood factory site. Special emphasis is placed on the period between 1769-1790 when Josiah Wedgwood’s most notable work was done. Not only his artistic achievements but his contributions to the development of many new ceramic bodies, are shown. These include: marbled, agate, Queen’s Ware, green glaze, black basalt, jasper, rosso antico, cane ware and others. In fact every development from the time of early slip and stone ware to modern china is represented. Steps in the manufacture and development of various types are shown and explained with molds, trial pieces, production processes, etc. Demonstrations such as that which was seen last night of an actual piece being thrown on a potters wheel will be scheduled at various times during the course of the exhibit.

    Noteworthy is Josiah Wedgwood’s copy of the famous Portland Vase which he made from the ancient funeral urn which contained ashes of a Roman Emperor and which was excavated near Rome about 1630 and eventually came to its present resting place in the British Museum. Also included is the noted vase known as the “First Days Throwing at Etruria”, thrown by Josiah Wedgwood while Thomas Bently turned the wheel at the opening of the Etruria factory on June 13, 1769. Pottery in every form both useful and ornamental, medallions, plaques, jewelry, etc., are to be seen in the Special Exhibition Galleries where the exhibition is being held.

    Portraits of Josiah Wedgwood and Sarah Wedgwood by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and a portrait of Elizabeth Wedgwood by George Romney also are part of the exhibition. These, together with important manuscripts such as Josiah’s first pattern book (1769), the pyrometer which he invented to measure the intense heat of the kilns, and two large murals of the Etruria and Barlaston works help to complete this very comprehensive showing of Wedgwood. The latter were painted especially for the Entrance Hall of the Brooklyn Museum by Robert W. Baker to call attention to the contrast yet the parallel between both plants. Etruria, built in 1769, by Josiah Wedgwood incorporated all the best then-known factory planning. Barlaston, built by Josiah’s 5th generation descendants, sets the pace for 20th century factory layouts and processes with special emphasis placed on the social problem of the worker, an idea not ignored by Josiah even in his day.

    All material shown in the exhibition was loaned by the Wedgwood Museum in Etruria, Staffordshire, England.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1947 - 1952. 04-06/1948, 032-3. View Original 1 . View Original 2
  • April 14, 1948: CORRECTION: The exhibition “Wedgwood a Living Tradition” will be opened at the Brooklyn Museum on Tuesday April 13th at 8:30 P.M. by Sir John H. Magowan, K.B.E., C.M.G., His Britannic Majesty’s Minister to the United States in charge of commercial affairs, and not by Sir Francis Evans as previously announced. Sir Francis Evans has been seriously ill and is unfortunately not well enough to attend.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1947 - 1952. 04-06/1948, 040. View Original
  • Date unknown, approximately 1948: On Tuesday, April 20th, at 8 P.M., Mr. Hensleigh C. Wedgwood will speak at the Brooklyn Museum on WEDGWOOD-A LIVING TRADITION. He will lecture in the special exhibition gallery of the Museum where the large and comprehensive exhibition of Wedgwood is currently on view. The exhibition which covers the whole history of Wedgwood consists of not only every type of ware, from early times to the present, but also all kinds of early documents, family portraits, etc. All of the material on view was brought from England especially for this showing at the Brooklyn Museum.

    A potter will be “throwing pots” at a potter’s wheel during the course of the evening in the Entrance Hall.

    Museum hours on Tuesdays are: 1:30 to 9:30 P.M., other weekdays 10 A.M. to 5 P.M., Sundays and holidays 1 to 5 P.M.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1947 - 1952. 04-06/1948, 043. View Original
  • Summer approximately 1948: On Tuesday evening, June 8th, the Brooklyn Museum will again present Mr. Hensleigh C. Wedgwood in a talk on “Wedgwood - A Living Tradition.” Mr. Wedgwood is a member of the 10th generation of Wedgwood potters who have owned and managed this remarkable firm and whose work illustrate 300 years of English ceramics. Mr. Wedgwood will talk in the Special Exhibition Gallery where the exhibition of Wedgwood is now on view.

    This Tuesday evening will be the last on which the Museum will remain open until 9:30 P.M. Mr. Charles Nagel, Jr., Director, announced, he said, “Although the Museum staff has been eager to provide an opportunity for the public to enjoy the Museum in the evening and has tried by a great variety of programs to make these evenings a success, attendance has not warranted the continuance of this plan which has been in effect since Feb. 25, 1947”. Henceforth, Museum hours will be: Weekdays 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. and Sundays and holidays 1:00 to 5:00 P.M.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1947 - 1952. 04-06/1948, 059. View Original