British Museum collections, £12.99
Diameter: 11.500 cm (with handle)
Bequeathed by Sir A.W. Franks (1897)
M&ME Pottery catalogue G.29
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Redware milk jug and cover, made by the Wedgwood factory
Staffordshire, England, around AD 1764-69
Redware, or red stoneware, was a popular type of unglazed pottery in the mid-eighteenth century in many parts of Europe, especially the Low Countries and England. It was principally intended to imitate Chinese tablewares for the preparation and serving of tea. In Stafforsdshire, the preparation of the red clays, using local Stafforsdshire clays which fired at a high temperature, had been perfected at the end of the seventeenth century by the Dutch brothers John Philip and David Elers. They produced exceptionally finely made teapots, mugs and tea canisters. The subsequent manufacture in the 1760s of unglazed red 'useful' wares was one of the ways in which Josiah Wedgwood established his name as a potter in the late eighteenth century. Wedgwood refined the body, and called it 'rosso antico'. It was often decorated with enamels and continued in production in the nineteenth century. The most common surviving pieces are mugs, tankards, teapots and coffeepots.
A variety of shapes was made using plaster moulds. Liquid clay, or 'slip', is poured into a plaster of Paris mould, which absorbs the water. Excess slip is poured off, and the clay takes on the shape of the mould as it dries. Teapots, for example, were made in a number of parts and joined together, or 'luted', with water before firing. The decoration on this piece is made by the rose engine-turning lathe, applied to the pottery body while still in its 'leather-hard' stage before firing.
The jug bears an impressed imitation Chinese seal mark, which may contain a 'W'. This may refer to the pottery site at the Brick House, Burslem.
A. Dawson, Masterpieces of Wedgwood in th, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)