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Obelisk

Obelisk

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1820 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Glass, enclosing a ceramic bust

  • Museum number:

    C.110-1978

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case 11

Object Type
Paperweights are required to be small and heavy but can take almost any form. Here the monumental form of an obelisk - a popular form for desk furniture - has been truncated to a more stable shape.

People
After his final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, remained a hero in Britain until his death in 1852. He was not content, however, to live quietly in retirement, but pursued a political career in the 1820s, culminating in a brief term as Prime Minister in 1829. This paperweight, which shows him as youngish man, was probably made around 1820, or possibly at the time of Napoleon's death on St Helena in 1821.

Materials & Making
Apsley Pellatt's patent for 'Crystallo-Ceramie' of 1819 was a new technique in Britain, but not in France, where it had been practised for some years, chiefly for making paperweights. Most ceramic decoration enclosed in clear glass were thin bas-reliefs (i.e., low-relief surface sculptures), whereas this miniature bust of Wellington is entirely three-dimensional and can be appreciated in profile as well as full-face. The lead glass used for these paperweights was ideal for the purpose: it magnified the image inside while the cut facets caught the light, and in the sunlight perhaps acted as a prism.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca. 1820 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Glass, enclosing a ceramic bust

Dimensions

Height: 10.2 cm, Width: 6.5 cm

Object history note

Made in London by Apsley Pellat (born in 1791, died in 1863), using his 'crystallo-ceramie' process

Descriptive line

Obelisk with portrait of the Duke of Wellington

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) was commemorated on a monumental scale by the statue of the classical hero Achilles at Hyde Park Corner and, much later, in a monument in St Paul's Cathedral. But he was celebrated more widely as a national hero, during his lifetime,by ornamental objects such as this. [27/03/2003]

Categories

British Galleries; Ceramics

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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