Some 20 years of Josiah Wedgwood's experiments separates these two pieces:
Jasper firing trial, c.1770s
(2.4 x 2.0 cms)
© V&A Museum
The Portland Vase, c. 1790
(Ht. 25.5 cms)
© V&A Museum
Wedgwood had begun his experiments long before, early in his career:
"This suite of Experiments was begun at Fenton Hall, in the parish of Stoke upon Trent, about the beginning of the year 1759, in my partnership with Mr Whieldon, for the improvement of our manufacture of earthenware, which at that time stood in great need of it, the demand for our goods decreasing daily, and the trade universally complained of as being bad & in a declining condition.
White stone ware (viz. with salt glaze) was the principal article of our manufacture; but this had been made a long time, and the prices were now reduced so low that the potters could not afford to bestow much expence upon it , or make it so good in any respect as the ware would otherwise admit of. And with regard to Elegance of form, that was an object very little attended to.
…these considerations induced me to try for some more solid improvement, as well in the Body as the Glazes, the Colours, the Forms, of the articles of our manufacture.
I saw the field was spacious, and the soil so good, as to promise an ample recompence to any one who should labour diligently in its cultivation."
Experiment Book of Josiah Wedgwood Wedgwood Museum, Barlaston