Pots of genius

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The Independent Culture
Pots of genius

Though it may seem unlikely, market research, product placement and PR were the aces up Josiah Wedgwood's sleeve when he founded his pottery in 1759. Quick to spot the potential of product endorsement, he renamed his Creamware Queen's Ware in honour of Queen Charlotte's patronage. This move rendered his designs instantly fashionable among the 18th-century middle classes, who, unlike their 20th-century equivalents, were keen to take tips on taste and style from the monarchy. The V&A's celebration of Stoke's most famous son includes 250 items from the famous Frog Service, commissioned by Catherine the Great of Russia, and the Portland Vase - a copy of a Roman vase which took him years to perfect. However the exhibition is not simply a "best of" medley. His copious notes and experimental pieces sit alongside finished works as testament to a lifelong pursuit of new designs, glazes and production methods. "The Genius of Wedgwood" presents a man whose dedication to his craft was quite astonishing - witness the 10,000 attempts it took him to perfect Jasperware, a glaze which is to many the essence of Wedgwood. Two hundred years after his death and Wedgwood remains a household name. Not bad for the youngest child of 12 whose apprenticeship in the family business was cut short by an illness which left him crippled for life.

'The Genius of Wedgwood' at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, SW7 (0171-938 8500) to 17 Sept

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