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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 143, The Timothy Sainsbury Gallery

Bust

1673-1675 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
Possibly the earliest portrait bust to be modelled in salt-glazed stoneware anywhere in Europe, this bust was clearly modelled by an accomplished (but still unknown) sculptor familiar with working in terracotta or wax. As the founder of the Fulham Pottery, John Dwight had high hopes for his patented material and, like Josiah Wedgwood in the 18th century, intended that his humble pottery should become associated with the fine arts, and perhaps therefore with wealthy patronage.

People
John Dwight, scholar and talented chemist, came from an Oxfordshire farming family. Like many upwardly mobile people in the Restoration period, he commissioned his family portraits, comprising stoneware busts of himself, his wife and recently-deceased daughter Lydia. These all survived within the Dwight family until their discovery on the death of his last descendant in 1859.

Materials & Making
Soft stoneware clay must have seemed ideal for modelling, because it could later be fired and made as hard as flint. Some of Dwight's figures were even painted with brown iron slip to resemble bronze. Almost a century passed, however, before the English pottery figure became popular, and then it was the mass-produced moulded type rather than individual figures made by professional modellers.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Salt-glazed stoneware, with hand-modelling
Brief Description
Bust of John Dwight, made at Fulham by an unidentified modeller, about 1675.
Physical Description
Salt glazed stoneware bust depicting John Dwight
Dimensions
  • Height: 18.2cm
  • Width: 17cm
  • Depth: 10.3cm
Dimensions checked: measured; 15/07/1999 by DW
Gallery Label
  • British Galleries: John Dwight, scholar and ceramic chemist, obtained a patent in 1672 for 'transparent Earthen Ware' and 'Stone ware vulgarly called Cologne ware'. His utilitarian wares quickly proved superior to those imported from Germany. The material could also be refined for figure modelling, as here.(25/03/2003)
  • Bust depicting John Dwight Made at the factory of John Dwight, Fulham, England, about 1673-75 Salt-glazed stoneware 1053-1871 Part of the Dwight family heirlooms discovered at the Fulham Pottery in 1861. The bust has since been identified from documentary sources.(23/05/2008)
Object history
Part of the "Dwight Heirlooms" discovered at the factory about 1860. The bust has since been identified from documentary sources.
Subject depicted
Summary
Object Type
Possibly the earliest portrait bust to be modelled in salt-glazed stoneware anywhere in Europe, this bust was clearly modelled by an accomplished (but still unknown) sculptor familiar with working in terracotta or wax. As the founder of the Fulham Pottery, John Dwight had high hopes for his patented material and, like Josiah Wedgwood in the 18th century, intended that his humble pottery should become associated with the fine arts, and perhaps therefore with wealthy patronage.

People
John Dwight, scholar and talented chemist, came from an Oxfordshire farming family. Like many upwardly mobile people in the Restoration period, he commissioned his family portraits, comprising stoneware busts of himself, his wife and recently-deceased daughter Lydia. These all survived within the Dwight family until their discovery on the death of his last descendant in 1859.

Materials & Making
Soft stoneware clay must have seemed ideal for modelling, because it could later be fired and made as hard as flint. Some of Dwight's figures were even painted with brown iron slip to resemble bronze. Almost a century passed, however, before the English pottery figure became popular, and then it was the mass-produced moulded type rather than individual figures made by professional modellers.
Bibliographic Reference
Hildyard, Robin. European Ceramics. London : V&A Publications, 1999. 144 p., ill. ISBN 185177260X
Collection
Accession Number
1053-1871

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record createdJuly 14, 1999
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