The Wedgwood Trafalgar Vase is on display in the Museum's Nelson Gallery. On Trafalgar Day 2005, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Alan West, received this unique masterpiece, on behalf of the nation, from Lord Wedgwood at a ceremony in front of Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory.
Josiah Wedgwood was a contemporary of Nelson and the company is proud of its long links with the Royal Navy. The donation of the 3½ foot high piece is the historic luxury ceramics company tribute to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar.
The vase itself has been created on the historic Borghese shape, first introduced by Wedgwood in the late 1700s. It is modelled in Wedgwood’s unique pale blue Jasper with hand crafted white ornamentation. Images of the Battle of Trafalgar have been created using the increasingly rare art of pate sur pate - literally hand painting and carving of wafer thin clay - on both the plinth and Vase itself. The Vase has then been heavily ornamented in 22-carat gold and bronze, and has a hand cast bell as its finial.
The Vase took artists in the Company’s prestige department at Barlsaton, Stoke-on-Trent – the home of the British pottery industry - 9 months to make. They used techniques and materials that would have been available to only the most skilled of 18th Century artisans.
Wedgwood Chief Executive Officer, Moira Gavin, says, ‘The workmanship in this vase is unsurpassed in Wedgwood’s 250-year history - the detail is almost unbelievable.
This Vase is not just another item of ceramic, it is an object that rates in importance alongside the Russian Imperial dinner services created by Wedgwood in the 1770s, the Company’s great works of art created by hand for the great international exhibitions of the 19th century, the famous Queen’s Ware service for Queen Charlotte in the 1900s and the 1903 White House Service. It is a historic piece in its own right and a fitting gift to the Nation on this great occasion.’