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Portrait medallion

Portrait medallion

  • Place of origin:

    Etruria (made)

  • Date:

    late 18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hackwood, William (modeller)
    Josiah Wedgwood and Sons (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Black Basalt ware

  • Credit Line:

    J. A. Tulk Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case 3

Object Type
Portrait medallions had long been made in metal, and were popular in wax and ivory in mid-18th century England. Wedgwood, however, was the first person to manufacture them in stoneware on a commercial scale.

This medallion of Wedgwood's bricklayer Edward Bourne was presumably made for purely personal reasons not for commercial production. It was probably intended to be hung on a wall in a wood or brass frame or stored in a cabinet.

Edward Bourne was the bricklayer at Wedgwood's factory. He would have been responsible for maintaining the brickwork of the factory kilns.

Materials & Making
This medallion is made of Black Basalt, one of several types of pottery that Wedgwood introduced or refined. Black Basalt was the result of a series of experiments to perfect a fine-grained stoneware suitable for the production of ornamental pieces, one that would complement the Neo-classical styles then coming into vogue. The black colour came from 'Carr', an oxide of iron suspended in water that had flowed through coal seams and mines. This was drained and dried and then sold by the cart-load to potters for use in the production of Basalt pottery.

Physical description

Portrait medallion of Edward Bourne, bricklayer at Etruria

Place of Origin

Etruria (made)


late 18th century (made)


Hackwood, William (modeller)
Josiah Wedgwood and Sons (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Black Basalt ware


Height: 6.98 cm, Width: 5.71 cm

Object history note

Modelled in 1778 by William Hackwood (active 1769, died in 1839)
Made at Josiah Wedgwood's factory at Etruria, Staffordshire

Descriptive line

E. Bourne

Labels and date

British Galleries:
It is not known why Wedgwood made this portrait of his bricklayer. William Hackwood, who signed it, supplied many of the reliefs for Wedgwood's Jasper and Black Basalt wares. He adapted other artists' work and modelled low reliefs of subjects taken from prints, making them suitable for Wedgwood's production methods. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

First issued in 1779




Ceramics Collection

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