- Museum number
Bust, biscuit earthenware, of Enoch Wood (1759-1840), slightly to right; wearing a topcoat with three button holes on each lapel, waistcoat with high neck and four buttons, top two being undone and bottom button missing; cravat tied in bow; inscribed all over reverse; on a waisted biscuit earthenware socle. Signed and dated.
- Production date
Height: 60.70 centimetres
Height: 2.01 feet
Width: 43.70 centimetres (max)
- Curator's comments
- Dawson 1999
Literature: F.Falkner, 'The Wood Family of Burslem: a brief biography of those of its members who were sculptors, modellers and potters', London, 1912, pl. XLIV, in possession of Mr A. H. E.Wood (donor's father) and pp. 80-81; G. Savage, 'Céramique anglaise', Fribourg, 1961, p. 184, pl. 74.
Displayed: c. 1960, King Edward VII Gallery (MLA Dept slip catalogue); c. 1970 MLA Dept.
Comparable examples: Varnished black example, Wedgwood Institute, Burslem, and two other busts, all with different inscriptions.(1)
Enoch Wood was apprenticed to Josiah Wedgwood of Burslem and Humphrey Palmer of Hanley. In 1784 he founded Enoch Wood and Company in Burslem; this became Wood and Caldwell in 1790 and Enoch Wood and Sons in 1818. Interior and exterior views of his factory complex at Fountain Works (where Wood also lived) are shown in 'A Representation of the Manufacturing of Earthenware, with twenty-one highly finished Copper Plate Engravings, and a short explanation of each, showing the whole process of the Pottery', London, 1827.(2) He was also in partnership with his cousin, the figure-maker Ralph Wood, around 1783.
In old age Wood was called the "Father of the Potteries" and performed numerous works for the public good, such as acquiring fire engines for the town. On his death Enoch Wood, who made a wide range of pottery, left a considerable sum, bequeathing £2,500 to each of his surviving daughters, and to the children of his late daughter Ann.
One of the earliest collectors of English pottery, Wood seems to have first exhibited in 1816 at a dinner celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the cutting of the Trent and Mersey Canal.(3) His museum, housed in his factory, consisted of almost 700 pieces and was internationally known. In 1835 he gave 182 pieces to the King of Saxony, now in the Museum at Schloss Pillnitz near Dresden.(4) His collections are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the City Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.
The bust is hollow, and was slip-moulded. The sitter is shown full face, wearing a neck cloth with a bow at the throat, a waistcoat with four small buttons and a jacket with three buttonholes and two buttons on each side of the reverse. The arms are cut away and the bust rests on an integral waisted socle.
The bust is an unusual example of full-scale portrait sculpture in a ceramic medium other than terracotta.(5) It is perhaps the only three-dimensional representation of an eighteenth-century British potter made during the subject's lifetime. That Wood was an accomplished modeller from an early age has long been known. On the evidence of two large octagonal earthenware plaques depicting Christ on the Cross dated 1777,(6) it is hard to believe that he had not received some artistic training, possibly from or through his uncle William Caddick, a portrait painter of Liverpool, who exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1780. Aged twelve Wood modelled a coat of arms in glazed cream-coloured earthenware.(7)
This carefully executed portrait shows the sitter in contemporary dress in a pose which is close to an oil portrait of about 1830 by J. Andrews representing Wood as a successful man of business.(8) John Wesley sat to Wood in Burslem in 1781, and an unglazed earthenware bust of him in John Wesley's House and Museum, London,(9) is incised with a dedication by Wood dated 1831 to the Revd Adam Clarke.
An earthenware bust painted black with a comparable inscription dated 12 July 1821 is in the City Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent,(10) presented in 1937 by John Grant of Udny Station, near Aberdeen, who purchased it at a sale. A bust by Wood of Enoch Wood junior dated 12 February 1814 for the sitter's twenty-first birthday is in the same collection.(11) It is incised with a long dedicatory poem signed Anne Brettell, Liverpool. Both of these can be compared with the Museum bust as examples of Wood's skill.
(1) Present whereabouts unknown, see F. Falkner, 'The Wood Family of Burslem', London, 1912, p. 81.
(2) These engravings have been used by many authors, for example the 'Frontispiece' showing Wood's factory is illustrated by P. Halfpenny, 'English Earthenware Figures 1740-1840', Woodbridge, 1991, p. 10.
(3) M. F. Goodby, The lost collection of Enoch Wood, 'Northern Ceramics Society Journal', IX, 1992, pp. 125-6, 127; Falkner, 'The Wood Family', pp. 89-91, quoting J. Ward, 'The Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent', London, 1843, repr. Hanley, 1984 (British Library, Document Supply Centre Monograph 86/24353), pp. 261-3.
(4) Goodby, 1992, passim.
(5) For other examples see the stoneware bust of Prince Rupert made at John Dwight's factory (registration no. 1871,0613.1), the Derby porcelain bust of a young woman (registration no. 1936,0715.19) and the Coade stone bust of John Flaxman jnr (registration no. 1909,1201.484).
(6) Stoke-on-Trent City Museum and Art Gallery, inv. 18a 1910 and Schreiber Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; see B. Rackham, 'Catalogue of English Porcelain, Earthenware, Enamels and Glass collected by Charles Schreiber Esq. M.P. and the Lady Charlotte Elizabeth Schreiber and Presented to the Museum in 1884, II: Earthenware', London, 1930, no. 553. An oval plaster of this subject signed by Enoch Wood was sold at Sotheby's, 9 July 1997, lot 525, formerly in the possession of the Wood family. Two oval versions in white stoneware are mentioned by Falkner, 'The Wood Family', p. 44.
(7) MLA Pottery Cat. H 45 (registration no. 1887,0307,H.45), incised inscription on reverse. The collection also includes a blue jasper dip plaque with a white relief of a girl with a tambourine dancing, impressed 'ENOCH WOOD/ SCULPSIT', MLA Pottery Cat. K 34 (registration no. 1887,0307,K.34).
(8 City Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, illus. in Goodby, 1992, p. 125.
(9) Inv. 1994/2530.
(10) Inv. no. 639P37A.
(11) Inv. no. 639P37B.
- Not on display
- damage to front right-hand edge and centre front of socle; small area on upper inside of waistcoat edge restuck; lowest button on waistcoat missing; bow perhaps restuck.
- Associated events
- Named in Inscription: Battle of the Boyne
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Presented by Major E. G. Wood, 1959 (by family descent), together with goldsmith almanacks for the years 1808, 1810 and 1818 with Wood's annotations and diary entries and a notebook (reg. no. MLA 1959,1201.2-5)
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number