This teapot was made by the Wedgwood factory from a material known as black basalt, which the factory first introduced in 1768. An extremely hard vitreous stoneware which takes its name from a volcanic rock, black basalt is made from reddish-brown clay which turns black on firing due to the addition of manganese oxide. The production of black basalt was inspired by Etruscan antiquities, which were being excavated at archaeological sites in Italy, and by the many vases in the renowned collection amassed by Sir William Hamilton. The clay body’s fine grain was ideally suited to moulded forms with crisp decoration, which favoured the production of table ware, portrait busts, statues and plaques.
This teapot was made using the slip-casting method, whereby liquid clay is poured into a mould and allowed to set before firing. The low-relief Neoclassical figures were moulded separately and applied to the body.