National Recording Project

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795)

Summary

Type Statue

     Wedgwood is depicted wearing contemporary dress of frock coat, buckled shoes, breeches and wig. He holds a copy of the Portland Vase, a Roman artefact in glass, of which his Burslem Manufactory made 50 reproductions in 1790.
     The original idea for erecting the statue of Wedgwood was Joseph Mayer's. On 24 January 1859 a Statue Committee was formed following a meeting chaired by the Mayor of Hanley, John Ridgway. The reason for siting the work in front of the railway station rather than anywhere more central was that it would therefore be on the boundary of Hanley and Stoke-on-Trent, both of whom laid claim to being the home of Wedgwood.(4) It was the Statue Committee's decision rather than the artist's that Wedgwood should be depicted together with his famous achievement, the Portland vase. The artist initially ubmitted a model with the vase standing on a pedestal next to Wedgwood, but this was changed in favour of the current design showing him in the pose he had adopted when lecturing about his production after it was decided that the figure should be in bronze rather than stone. The inauguration of the statue was delayed for about a year while it was shown at the International Exhibition of 1862. A contemporary critic from the London Illustrated News described it as 'a thoroughly sound and manly work of art, the likeness being founded on a portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds'. He spoke of the great novelty of the design lying in the absence of any conventional pedestal depicting 'pitchers, pillar, pile of books, stump of tree, heap of machines, hanging drapery of cloak or what not - an innovation which cannot be too highly commended'. (5) The unveiling ceremony for the statue included processions from each of Stoke-on-Trent's six towns, and an extravagant meal for the gathered dignitaries at the North Stafford Hotel.(2) The statue was unveiled by the Earl of Harrowby. In 1957 a bronze cast was erected outside Wedgwood's Barlaston factory. This was made from the original plaster cast model discovered in a storage depot and repaired by Wedgwood's then chief modeller, Eric Owen.
     Josiah Wedgwood I (1730-1795) was born in Burslem, now one of the six towns of 'the Potteries' or Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. After completing an apprenticeship he opened a successful manufactory in Burslem in 1759, and in 1769 another one near Hanley, which he called 'Etruria' in the incorrect belief that Greek vases were Etrusacan in origin. Etruria included a model factory, workers village and mansion. A relief in Stoke Church by John Flaxman (1755-1826) records that he, 'converted a rude and inconsiderable Manufactory into an elegant Art and An important part of the National Commerce'. (1)

Inscriptions

On pedestal sides, inscribed: (on front) JOSIAH/ WEDGWOOD/ (on right hand side) BORN/ 1730/ (on back) ERECTED/ BY/ PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION/ INAUGURATED/ BY THE RIGHT HON/ THE EARL OF HARROWSKY. K. C./ 24 FEB 1863/ (on left hand side) DIED/1795

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Davis, Edward Sculptor

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Figure Bronze 250cm high approx
Pedestal Sandstone 200cm high approx x 47cm wide x 47cm deep

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
STskSKxx005 BM
General condition Fair
Surface condition
  • Corrosion, Deterioration
  • Metallic staining
  • Corrosion, Deterioration
  • Surface spalling, crumbling
Structural condition
  • None
Vandalism
  • None
Road Winton Square
Precise location Opposite Stoke-on-Trent Station, in the forecourt of the North Stafford Hotel
A-Z ref 72 4A
OS ref SJ880458
Date of design 1862-3
Year of unveiling 1863
Unveiling details 24 February 1863
Commissioned by Erected by public subscription
Duty of care Stoke on Trent City Council
Listing status II
At risk? No known risk

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