Wedgwood Renaissance Red

This elegant dining set will be on offer at our upcoming QBO Estate Sale. It has the look of fine antique china because it IS fine bone china, and was made by what could be called an ‘antique’ china company, Wedgwood, which is 265 years old. However, the pattern is contemporary and still in production (in case you need to add other pieces such as covered serving dishes, soup plates, cereal bowls, rice bowls, lotus spoons, teapots, creamers and covered sugar bowls, or maybe some nice demitasse or coffee mugs – it seems Wedgwood has thought of everything!).

The pattern is called “Renaissance Red”. There is also a gray version “Renaissance Grey” (with the British spelling of the colour rather than the American one); and a dark blue version called… (wait for it) “Renaissance Gold”, maybe because it was first in production and Wedgwood hadn’t anticipated introducing two more colorways. “Renaissance” was first released in 2009, based on designs in Wedgwood’s archives dating back to the late 18th century, which in turn were inspired by Italian Renaissance motifs from the 15th and 16th centuries, including the laurel leaves on these plate and saucer rims. The netting-like, all-over “Jasper cameo” pattern (the connected ovals) is a historic one for Wedgwood, which has regarded the cameo as a signature motif since 1785 when Matthew Boulton designed Cameo Jasperware scent bottles for his boss, Josiah Wedgwood. Inspired by Roman antiquities, cameos are most often found as jewelry: fine profile portraits carved of stone or shell, and set in an oval frame.

Wedgwood first developed the remarkably ornate Florentine pattern that is used on the border of its Renaissance salad/accent plates in 1931. The broad border, which is also used on many other Wedgwood china patterns, features fearsome gryphons and cockatrices that any medieval manuscript illuminator would be proud of.

The exuberant, elegant confidence of the Renaissance pattern is evidence of Wedgwood’s centuries of experience in designing fine china. If you are a collector of vintage or antique Wedgwood, you will have seen some of the company’s many maker’s marks – there are over 20 to date, on over 350 china patterns! So where did all this creativity spring from?

Sometimes called the “Father of English Potters”, Josiah Wedgwood was a 29 year-old highly experimental potter when he founded the company in 1759. He is best known for developing Jasperware in 1774, a fine, matte-finish tinted stoneware with white, raised reliefs of pseudo-classical Greek or Roman scenes. Many of Josiah’s molds are still in use today and pieces in his most popular color, “Wedgwood Blue” are sought by collectors worldwide. But that’s not all; in addition to being the forward-thinking businessman who pioneered direct mail, money-back guarantees, free delivery, celebrity endorsements, illustrated shopping catalogues and buy-one, get-one-free promotional campaigns (whew!) later in life Josiah became an avid abolitionist and one of his grandsons, Charles Darwin, revolutionized science with his theories on evolution.

But, all this elegance does have two tiny Achilles heels: if you are a very strict Vegan, know that the “bone” in bone china really IS ground bone ash, used to strengthen and lend translucency to fine china. And, that luxe King Midas gilding gracing all these dishes? It’s real metal which can be a microwave killer, so while it’s safe to clean “Renaissance Red” in your modern dishwasher, please don’t use these fine luxury pieces for reheating your leftover pizza. See you soon!