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Vase - Copy of The Portland Vase
  • Copy of The Portland Vase
    Josiah Wedgwood's factory
  • Enlarge image

Copy of The Portland Vase

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Staffordshire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1840-1845 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Josiah Wedgwood's factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Black Jasper, with applied reliefs in white

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 138, The Harry and Carol Djanogly Gallery, case 13, shelf 4

The Portland Vase, a Roman cameo-cut glass vase of about 40-30 BC, was one of the most celebrated antiquities in late eighteenth century Europe. Previously in the possession of the Barberini family of Rome (and hence also known as the Barberini Vase), it was bought in 1784 by the Duchess of Portland from the British Ambassador to Naples, the antiquarian and collector Sir William Hamilton, and is now in the British Museum. Following the Duchesses’ death in 1786 Wedgwood borrowed the vase in order to begin making copies in Jasper, the fine unglazed stoneware he had developed as a result of thousands of experiments during the 1770s. Jasper is white, but can be stained a range of colours as a background for applied moulded reliefs. Wedgwood spent four years matching the subtlety of the glass original. In 1789 he showed his first perfected copy to the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, who authenticated it as a ‘correct and faithful imitation.’ The following year he exhibited the vase in his London showrooms to members of the nobility and gentry who had applied for admission tickets in advance. Wedgwood's ‘first edition’ copies are the 45 or so made during the potter’s lifetime. This piece is a mid-19th century reissue of the design, and was bought from the Wedgwood factory in 1845.

Physical description

Black Basalt, with applied reliefs on the side and base in white Jasper. Amphora-shaped, with applied rethe imbricated handles springing form bearded masks. The figures have been interpreted as, on one side, Peleus led to Thetis by Cupid in the presence of Poseidon, on the other, Peleus and Aphrodite watching the sleeping Thetis. On the bottom is a bust with a Phrygian cap, probably Paris.

Place of Origin

Staffordshire (made)


ca. 1840-1845 (made)


Josiah Wedgwood's factory (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Black Jasper, with applied reliefs in white


Height: 25.5 cm conversion from 10 inches imperial, Diameter: 19 cm conversion from 7.5 inches imperial

Object history note

A mid-19th-century of the Portland Vase, a Roman cameo-cut glass vase of about 40-30 BC.

Descriptive line

Copy of the Portland Vase, Black Jasper with white reliefs, Wedgwood's factory, Staffordshire, ca. 1840-1845

Production Note

Described as 'Modern' when purchased from Messrs Wedgwood in 1845


Stoneware; Jasper ware


Ceramics; Vases; Jasperware


Ceramics Collection

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