Taking a train ride for Stoke on Trent I was observing Potteries landscape running by, all green and smooth.It made me happy to recognize English countryside just as sculptured in Wallace &Gromit our kids liked that much .Yet my thoughts at that moment were: “If I survive this I shall reward myself with one Wedgwood cup!”-sorry my friends in Stoke, but at that moment I couldn’t know that all the clay and coal from these green paysage helped writing a garden story I would listen with open mouth…
I met a young man by the name of J. Wedgwood who had planted a flower garden adjacent to his pottery.He also had his men wash their hands and faces and change their clothes after working in the clay.(attributed to John Wesley).
I was happy indeed, when I found this sentence, visiting Wedgwood museum.There were so many potters there around, for centuries, but just one of them, Josiah Wedgwood, succeeded to become the one and only one. How he did it? The mentioned sentence explains it all. I am not saying each gardener will become best potter ever. Yet to make porcelain that different from average, so beautiful, with fantastic patterns, one has to be a good observer,and one has to dare. Young Joshua dared to plant a garden behind his factory, there he could observe the beauty of nature, and to transpose it into porcelain.I state this shows nature is the best teacher keen observer can have.
Garden themes Joshua Wedgwood revived in porcelain brought his name far away.
One of Wedgwood porcelain masterpieces-Frog service- was commissioned by Empress Catherine in 1773 .Incredible number of 952 pieces of the service were all painted with 1,244 realistic scenes with buildings ,gardens and landscapes from England.As the service was intended for the palace built on a frog marsh a green frog emblem was painted on each piece of the service.
Frog Service Dessert Plate View 947. A View taken near Mr Smith’s House at Battersea looking up The Thames. Designed & engraved by Boydell, 1752. (Possibly a duplicate that was not sent to Russia due to an imperfection).from:http://wedgwoodmuseum.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/by-royal-approval-wedgwoods-queens-ware/#more-216
Nature and gardens didn’t bring Joshua Wedgwood only to the queens of England and Russia, there arouse even more important friendship.In 1780 Wedgwood turned to Erasmus Darwin,English physician, natural philosopher, physiologist, inventor and poet, to help him running the business after Wedgwood business partner died.It is no surprise the two became close friends.Why? They both admired botany! While in Etruria Works fantastic porcelain with scenery from nature, gardens, botany was produced Darwin worked for seven years on Carolus Linnaeus latin text coining many English botanic terms in use up to today.
Erasmus Darwin, from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erasmus_Darwin
Erasmus Darwin was not only a scientist and inventor, he was also a poet.His two poems; The Economy of Vegetation and The Loves of the Plants,were published together as The Botanic Garden (1791).The book was an expensive one, but it became a best-seller It was educating broader public, making botany interesting ,speaking about evolution in nature.
Title page from The Botanic Garden(1791), from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Botanic_Garden
But the story does not end yet! Joshuas daughter married Erasmus son.Their son was Charles Darwin, father of the evolution theory! Could you believe what arouse from the love of nature , gardens, botany?
The seven-year-old Charles Darwin in 1816.from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin
This post was written as a guest post for The Beagle Project, a blog about Charles Darwin journey ,so inspiring even today.