Kate Turner, Chief Curator, writes: The V&A Wedgwood Collection is grateful to the Friends of the National Libraries for their support in purchasing the set of design drawings for the ‘Campanula’ tea and coffee service, which was designed by French designer Paul Follot (1877-1941) for Wedgwood. There are ten drawings in the set, drawn in pencil on tracing paper and paper.
The design drawings and the extraordinary finished pieces, which were also acquired, fill an important gap in the V&A Wedgwood Collection, and are a wonderful example of the Wedgwood company’s tradition of working with innovative artists to create their designs. The ‘Campanula’ tea and coffee set and design drawings provide a rare insight into this period of Wedgwood history. Only a very small number of products were made in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles and Follot’s designs were also extremely labour-intensive, so were only produced by Wedgwood in small quantities.
For the tea and coffee set, Follot created four different shapes of cup, each with a complementary saucer shape – a ‘Tasse à Café’; a tall ‘Tasse à ‘Chocolat Américaine’’ or hot chocolate cup; a wide ‘Tasse à Thé’, and a smaller coffee cup, alongside a ‘Cafetière’ for coffee, a ‘Petite Théière’ or small teapot, a ‘Pot à Crême’ or milk jug, and a ‘Sucrier’ or sugar bowl. The ‘Campanula’ design is distinguished by a scrolling handle and an elaborate long fluted finial surmounted by a fleur-de-lis. The hand-painted decoration features black enamel stripes highlighted with a gilded stripe motif, on a gilded base with a scroll pattern. With only four of each type of cup, the set presumably enabled the user to choose which drink they preferred.
The drawings are an important addition to the V&A Wedgwood Collection’s archive, offering an insight into the unusually complex design process for this set. They show the journey from concept to production: Follot’s notes on several of the drawings, ‘avant réduction’ and ‘après réduction’, suggest the scale of the drawings represents the size of the product before and after the clay shrinks as it is fired in the kiln. Amongst the drawings is a design for an unusual ‘Pomona’ Queen’s ware centrepiece, also crafted by Follot for Wedgwood.
The generous contribution towards the drawings received from the Friends of the National Libraries enabled us to secure this fantastic acquisition for the public collection. Additional support was gratefully received from the V&A Americas Foundation through the generosity of the A. Alfred Taubman Foundation at the recommendation of William and Ellen Taubman, The Decorative Arts Society 40th Anniversary Fund, and Simon Wedgwood. A legacy gift towards this set was also left by Jacob Holt.
The drawings join the UNESCO-recognised archives of the V&A Wedgwood Collection, and appear in graphic print to complement the new display of this acquisition in the V&A Wedgwood Collection, at the World of Wedgwood, Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent.