Figure, kangaroo, earthenware with 'Moonstone' glaze, designed and modelled by John Skeaping, made by Wedgwood, England, 1933
Wedgwood's kangaroo figure was modelled in 1927 by John Rattenbury Skeaping, a student of the sculptor Richard Garbe and a noted artist himself. Wedgwood commissioned Skeaping to design a series of 14 models of different animals, among them this kangaroo, in an attempt to attract greater interest in the very depleted markets (in the late 1920s Wedgwood suffered direct effects of the Wall Street crash). Only 10 models, including this kangaroo, were eventually put into production. Skeaping's models emphasised the angularity of the subject in a distinctively contemporary manner.
At the time the highly stylised forms of contemporary sculpture, such as those found in works by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, were in line with the style of modern interior design. This fact together with Wedgwood's policy of inexpensive simplicity ensured popularity of Skeaping's models throughout the 1930s.
These and other 'modern' designs produced at Wedgwood during the decade gave the public the opportunity to buy contemporary 'art' ceramics at a modest cost.
The figure was designed and modelled by John Rattenburry Skeaping in 1927 and made by Wedgowood, England in 1933.
Sculptor, draughtsman and engraver, Skeaping (1901-80) studied at London's Goldsmith's College, at Central School of Arts and Crafts, 1917-19, and at the Royal Academy Schools, 1919-20. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1922 and in 1924 was awarded the Prix de Rome. He was married to Barbara Hepworth from 1924 to 1933. The series of 14 animals, which included this kanagroo, was Skeaping's first project for Wedgwood. In 1953 he became professor of sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London and seven years later was elected a member of the Royal Academy.
Made by Wedgwood, Etruria, England 1928-29. Cast in one piece, these kangaroo figures were produced throughout the 1930s in cane-coloured earthenware, Queens Ware, 'Moonstone' glaze (matt white, first produced in 1933), matt grey, 'Celadon' (green-stained earthenware) and in black basalt. They were re-issued in the 1950s, some in the Windsor grey coloured body with a rust glaze devised by Norman Wilson. The figures produced before 1939 bore Skeaping's signature in facsimile in addition to their Wedgwood trade marks. (see: R Reilly, 'Wedgwood, the new illustrated dictionary', Antique Collectors Club, 1996).