Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 138, The Harry and Carol Djanogly Gallery

Copy of The Portland Vase

Vase
ca. 1840-1845 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Black Jasper, with applied reliefs in white
Brief Description
Copy of the Portland Vase, Black Jasper with white reliefs, Wedgwood's factory, Staffordshire, ca. 1840-1845
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.
Dimensions
  • Conversion from 10 inches imperial height: 25.5cm
  • Conversion from 7.5 inches imperial diameter: 19cm
Style
Object history
A mid-19th-century of the Portland Vase, a Roman cameo-cut glass vase of about 40-30 BC.
Production
Described as 'Modern' when purchased from Messrs Wedgwood in 1845
Summary
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.
Collection
Accession Number
3320-1845

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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