ArtChevron Down Icon
Discord Icon

Josiah Wedgwood: Tycoon of Taste

Watch on YouTube

Youtube Filled Icon
Share Icon

Subscribe to HENI Talks Channel

"The Steve Jobs of pottery" is how Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, sees eighteenth century design pioneer, Josiah Wedgwood. Inventor, entrepreneur and uncompromising perfectionist, Wedgwood's ambition changed the face of the decorative arts in Britain forever. Inspired by the latest fashion for classicism, Wedgwood created wares in his Stoke factories for both the masses and the aristocracy, whilst using his designs to support the most morally charged cause of his day -- the abolition of slavery. However, it was his obsession with equalling the great icons of the classical past that led to his boldest accomplishment -- the Portland Vase, which now lives in the V&A collection.

As one of the key figures behind the campaign to save the Wedgwood Collection for the nation in 2014, Tristram Hunt speaks with passion and wit about the life and legacy of the self-proclaimed 'Vase-Maker General to the Universe'.

Time Period:


Twitter Icon

Dr Tristram Hunt became Director of the V&A in February 2017. Formerly the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central, he served as the Labour Party's Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

He has a First Class degree in history from Trinity College, Cambridge (1995), and served as an Exchange Fellow at the University of Chicago (1996). Tristram has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, on 'Civic Thought in Britain, 1820-1860' (2000).

In 1997, he became a Special Adviser to Science Minister Lord Sainsbury (1997-2000), Associate Fellow at the Centre for History and Economics, King's College, Cambridge and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Between 2001-2010, Tristram combined his post as Senior Lecturer in History at Queen Mary, University of London, with work as a history broadcaster, presenting a range of radio and television programmes for the BBC and Channel 4. He is the author of The English Civil War: At First Hand (2002), Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City(2004), the award- winning biography, The Frock-coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels (2009), and most recently Ten Cities That Made an Empire (2014).

He has lectured on British and international culture at the Centre for European Studies, University of California Berkeley; the Centre for European Studies, Harvard; Princeton University and the National University of Singapore.

Tristram has served as a Trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the History of Parliament Trust. He played a key role in helping to save the Wedgwood Collection from dispersal and is President of the British Ceramics Biennial. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a member of the Council of the Royal College of Art.

Read More

Discord Icon

Discuss With Our HENI Community

Join the HENI Community on Discord to discuss with over 20,000 community members

Watch More

Watch More