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Portrait medallion
  • Portrait medallion
    Andras, Catherine, born 1775 - died 1860
  • Enlarge image

Portrait medallion

  • Place of origin:

    Derby (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1798-1802 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Andras, Catherine, born 1775 - died 1860 (modeller)
    Derby Porcelain factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Biscuit soft-paste porcelain

  • Museum number:

    C.2-2010

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 9, shelf 5

The sitter of this elegant neoclassical medallion has been identified as the agricultural reformer and Whig politician Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford (1765-1802). It was linked to a bronze medal engraved by John Gregory Hancock by Errol Manners, and this in turn is thought to be after a wax portrait of 1801 by Catherine Andras, now in the museum's collection.
The medallion is in Derby biscuit porcelain and is the only one with this subject now known. Biscuit portrait medallions of Mrs Duesbury (wife of the factory's owner) and of the Duke of Portland (a client of the factory) were in the collection of William Bemrose in 1898 but are now lost. According to Bemrose, a Derby porcelain collector and historian of the factory, 'Medallions appear to have been seldom made at Derby, probably on account of the biscuit body not being suitable for that purpose … From enquiries I am unaware of other medallions having been made at Derby' (A Descriptive Catalogue of Porcelain and other Art Objects in the Collection of William Bemrose., F.S.A., privately printed, 1898). Bemrose attributed his medallions to the modeller J. J. Spängler, probably in part because Spängler is known to have modelled some of the best Derby biscuit of the early 1790s, and probably partly because Spängler's contract specifies that he was 'at liberty to make portraits and other small work in his extra time.' However, Spängler left the factory in 1795, and the style of the sitter's hair and his dates suggest the portrait was probably modelled about 1798-1802. The discovery of the Andras wax portrait and the very similar bronze medal made after it, would suggest that this little-known female sculptor was in fact responsible. Porcelain manufacturers must have used many artists like her to produce models, most of whose names have been lost today. We know that she sold casts of some of her reliefs and like many artists, she probably made her living taking commissions for decorative work or working as a drawing teacher, showing her work in small society exhibitions.

Physical description

Oval portait medallion with portrait bust of Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford, in low relief facing left. He wears his hair in short curls in classical style and has sideburns. There are traces of a 'smear' glaze and of cobalt blue on the obverse.

Place of Origin

Derby (made)

Date

ca. 1798-1802 (made)

Artist/maker

Andras, Catherine, born 1775 - died 1860 (modeller)
Derby Porcelain factory (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Biscuit soft-paste porcelain

Dimensions

Height: 13.5 cm, Width: 9.9 cm

Object history note

Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford (1765-1802), was an agricultural reformer and Whig politician. Hilary Young (see below) says he was well-known to the Derby factory: 'Firstly, surviving documents show he was an exacting customer of Derby porcelain in 1786-87 when he purchased standard tea and breakfast wares and placed a more complicated order for a set of breakfast cups, copied from a French shape, which are mentioned several times in letters from the London showrooms to Derby. Secondly, and possibly more significantly, he was the owner and landlord of the building leased in 1773 by the first William Duesbury, the factory's proprietor, in which his London showrooms were located from 1774 until 1806. It is conceivable that the order for the medallion's manufacture came about because of this landlord and tenant relationship.'

Descriptive line

Portrait medallion of Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford, biscuit porcelain, Derby porcelain factory, ca. 1798-1802.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Young, Hilary. Derby biscuit portrait medallions. English Ceramics Circle Transactions, Volume 23, 2012, pp5-10. Illustrated fig. 1, 5p.

Materials

Soft-paste porcelain

Categories

Ceramics; Porcelain

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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