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Wedgwood Jasperware: everything you need to know

As collectable now as it was in 1774, here's everything you need to know about Wedgwood Jasperware...

Two blue Wedgwood Jasperware vases shot against a burnt orange background

Josiah Wedgwood was instrumental in making English pottery a leader on the world stage. One of his greatest inventions was Jasperware. The smooth, hard stoneware, fashioned in a neoclassical style, rivalled Chinese porcelain in its allure and was snapped up by Georgian consumers, ensuring Wedgwood became a household name. Still produced by the company today, it remains as recognisable now as it was 200 years ago.

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A beautifully detailed antique Jasperware vase from Rachel’s & Michael’s Antiques. Photography by Philip Sowels.
A beautifully detailed antique Jasperware vase from Rachel’s & Michael’s Antiques. Photography by Philip Sowels.

What inspired Wedgwood Jasperware?

From the second half of the 18th century, Britain was gripped by neoclassical fever. Excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii had unearthed captivating treasures, and the architect Robert Adam was designing buildings influenced by ancient Greece and Rome. In Burslem, Josiah Wedgwood was similarly entranced and worked to refine his stoneware into something that might match the artefacts of the ancients. In 1774 he hit on the formula for a hard, finegrained stoneware that could be stained in a variety of colours. The clay was shaped into vases, urns, plaques and tableware, and decorated with applied figures and motifs, inspired by classical art. At the time, the most famous classical artefact was the cameo glass Portland Vase, made in the first century. Josiah worked for many years to replicate it, a feat he finally achieved in 1790.

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An illustration of the Georgian Rococo period by Esther Curtis
Two blue Wedgwood Jasperware vases shot against a burnt orange background
With it’s chalky blue-grey finish, Jasperware is still the most iconic of Josiah Wedgwood’s designs. Vases from Rachel’s & Michael’s Antiques, photography by Philip Sowels.

Who was Josiah Wedgwood?

It’s hard to overstate Josiah Wedgwood’s (1730-1795) contribution to pottery. Born into a family of potters in Burslem, he was the youngest of 12 children, and showed early promise as a potter until smallpox left him unable to operate the wheel. He turned instead to design and experimentation and it was this instinct to find new ways of doing things that led to his success. He embraced the innovations of industrialisation and, by the 1770s, his factory was the most successful pottery in England. Today he is seen as a visionary, who transformed pottery from a cottage craft into an international industry.

A portrait of Josiah Wedgwood by George Stubbs, c1780.
A portrait of Josiah Wedgwood by George Stubbs, c1780.
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4 ways to style Wedgwood Jasperware

How to create covetable displays using old and new Wedgwood Jasperware designs…

Go contemporary with new Jasperware designs

A modern homage to Jasperware is Wedgwood’s new range of Burlington pots (from £55 each). Featuring the iconic Wedgwood blue and white colour scheme, these will bring the spirit of Jasper with a contemporary twist into your home. For best effect, group a few on a window sill and fill with flourishing house plants or herbs.

Wedgwood's Burlington pots filled with fresh foliage

A modern homage to Jasperware is Wedgwood’s new range of Burlington pots (from £55 each). Featuring the iconic Wedgwood blue and white colour scheme, these will bring the spirit of Jasper with a contemporary twist into your home. For best effect, group a few on a window sill and fill with flourishing house plants or herbs.

Shop the collection:

Wedgwood Burlington pots pale blue on white, £55, Wedgwood

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Wedgwood Burlington pots pale blue on white, £55, Wedgwood

Wedgwood Burlington pots white on black pot, £75, Wedgwood

Buy it now

Wedgwood Burlington pots white on black pot, £75, Wedgwood

Wedgwood Burlington pots pale blue on white pot, £95, Wedgwood

Buy it now

Wedgwood Burlington pots pale blue on white pot, £95, Wedgwood

 

Display antique Jasperware on an old sideboard or dresser for a traditional feel

 

For a striking display in your kitchen or dining room, arrange your pieces of Jasperware with other collections of vintage ceramics and glassware. Mixing practical and pretty pieces from different styles and eras creates a fresh, eclectic look better suited to a contemporary home than a more formal arrangement of a unifying style.

Wedgewood Jasperware on kitchen cabinet beneath another cabinet filled with glassware

Make a statement with a single piece

Classic Jasperware is instantly recognisable and brings a touch of neoclassical elegance to any setting. For subtle impact go for simple, unshowy pieces, like the vase in this picture, and dress with a loose arrangement of flowers.

Detail of Wedgewood Jasperware vase at Osterley Park & House, Middlesex

Shop more Jasperware vases for your home:

Magnolia blossom Jasper bud vase, £85, Wedgwood

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Magnolia Blossom Jasper bud vase, £85, Wedgwood

Magnolia blossom large Jasper vase, £175, Wedgwood

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Magnolia blossom large Jasper vase, £175, Wedgwood

Opt for natural patterns

Wedgwood’s Blue Pebble tableware (from £85) is another reimagining of Jasperware, updated for the 21st-century table. The blue and white stoneware, made from the company’s Jasper formula, is inspired by water-washed pebbles and beautifully complements the natural textures of wood, linen and stone.

A rustic farmhouse table laden with modern Wedgwood designs

Shop the collection:

Blue pebble shallow bowl, £50, Wedgwood

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Blue pebble shallow bowl, £50, Wedgwood

Blue Pebble bowl, £50, Wedgwood

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Blue Pebble bowl, £50, Wedgwood