Amanda Lange, Historic Deerfield
The Portland Vase, Josiah Wedgwood (1720-1795), Etruria, Staffordshire, England, c. 1790. First edition. Jasperware. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In the mid-18th century, a new design aesthetic developed in France and England, known at the time as the “true” or “correct” style. Today referred to as Neoclassical, designers harkened back to the shapes and ornaments of Classical Greece and Rome. Excavations of Nero’s Golden Dome, and later the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, revived interest in the ancient world and inspired artists and architects. A ‘pure’ simplicity became favored over the more ornate or asymmetrical designs featured in the earlier Rococo period. In the newly formed United States, close identification with the Roman republic helped popularize Neoclassicism, commonly known here as the Federal style. Antiquity thus became a source of inspiration for architecture, furniture, and ceramics. The frequent use of swags, urns, and elliptical motifs, along with the application of bright and varied color palettes and symmetry, are expressions of Neoclassical style. This lecture will survey Neoclassical ceramics in particular earthenwares and stonewares made by Josiah Wedgwood, Chinese export porcelain, and French porcelain for the American market.