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Wedgwood: Design Influences: Architects, Antiquities, Collectors and Sculptors (redirected from Design Influences and Inspiration - Architects, Antiquities Collectors, Sculptors)

Page history last edited by Joyce Weaver 7 months, 2 weeks ago

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Wedgwood gleaned inspiration from architects and antiquities collectors who traveled on the Grand Tour or had posts abroad and brought back to England their ideas and rare finds sparking the neoclassicism movement. Antiquities were collected from the lost cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and documented in several texts Wedgwood scoured for design inspiration.  Not only were book illustrations and etchings used for inspiration, but also plaster casts of sculptural works by such artists as Michelangelo and Bernini from earlier centuries were used by Wedgwood to expand his product lines. 



Wedgwood. Tripod Vase, circa 1790-1800, stoneware

(black basalt). collection of Jeffrey s. Milkins and Steven R. Parker 

Wedgwood. Covered Vase, 1769–80, stoneware (black basalt). Museum Purchase: Delhom Collection. 1965.48.757A-B. Collection of The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC



Adam, Robert, 1728-1792 / The works in architecture of Robert and James Adam, Esquires
Volume III (1902)  Plate III. Geometrical section of the library at Sion-House



  • Robert Adam (1728-1792) was known for the classical interpretations he applied to his architectural creations. He spent four years traveling throughout Italy where he observed Roman antiquity and brought these design elements back to England. He and his brother James Adam (1730-1794) published The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam:  Vol 1Vol 2,  Vol 3 
    • Interesting note: Wedgwood was eager to hire away any former employee of the Adam's firm including John Voyez who eventually stole from Wedgwood and went to work for Wedgwood's competitor, Humphrey Palmer.
  • James "Athenian" Stuart (1713-1788), a pioneer of neoclassicism, is best known for his publication, The Antiquities of Athens (1762) recording classical Greek architecture which became a source book for designers well after his death. Stuart is known for reviving the tripod form emulated in the Wedgwood vase below.

  • Sir William Chambers (1723-1796), the designer of the temples and gardens at Kew in London named a Royal Architect thanks to his good friend the Prince of Wales, was an admirer of the Italian masters. His well-known Treatise on Civil Architecture influenced Wedgwood's designs.


Antiquities Collectors 

  • As a British envoy to Naples, Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803) was fascinated with nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum and an avid collector of antiquities. 

    • More about Sir William Hamilton in "British Diplomat Hamilton documents the 'field of fire'" from The Getty 
    • By documenting his personal collection in four volumes (below), Hamilton helped establish neoclassicism in the eighteenth century by providing designs for Wedgwood's wares. Wedgwood had a complete set of these books in his personal library.

Volume 1 

Volume 2 

Volume 3 

Volume 4 












Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman antiquities from the cabinet of theHonourable William Hamilton, 1766. https://archive.org/details/collectionofetru01hami/page/n322

Wedgwood, Vase, circa 1780-95, The Mint Museum Collection






Documentary about Herculaneum and the treasures found there. (60min) 



16th Century Sculptors


17th Century Sculptors & Etchers  





The model for the Fountain of the Moor

Triton, Wedgwood, circa 1770-1776, black basalt.

The Vyne,Hampshire.


  • Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654), renowned sculptor, draftsman, and architect and an acknowledged rival to Bernini in 17th century Rome.

    •  Algardi's marble "Allegoria del Sonno," (Allegory of Sleep) on exhibit at the Medieval Museum of Bologna. See Wedgwood's black basalt version, called Somnus, below.
    •  Wedgwood's basalt Somnus from the Birmingham Museum of Art.



Wedgwood and Bentley, Somnus, circa 1774, stoneware (black basalt),

Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art,

The Buten Wedgwood Collection, AFI.239.2008 


  • Stefano della Bella (1610-1664), not a sculptor but rather a prolific Italian draftsman and etcher provided inspiration from his vase illustrations from his Raccolta di vasi diversi. For an example see Plate 6.

  • Jacques Stella (1596-1657), whose etchings in Livre de Vases were a source for Wedgwood's vase shape designs.
    • More about a Wedgwood ewer from the Victoria & Albert Museum.  




Created by Christina Petty, LIS Graduate Student    





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