Plaque thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery


ca. 1750 (made)
Place of origin

Plaque of hard-paste porcelain painted with enamels and gilded. Painted with cameos of Roman Emperors in white on black, in medallions reserved on a green ground accompanied by ribbons with their names. Purple scrollwork, and below is a monster's head in black and red.

Object details

Object type
Materials and techniques
Hard-paste porcelain painted with enamels and gilded
Brief description
Plaque of hard-paste porcelain, Doccia porcelain factory, Doccia, ca. 1750.
Physical description
Plaque of hard-paste porcelain painted with enamels and gilded. Painted with cameos of Roman Emperors in white on black, in medallions reserved on a green ground accompanied by ribbons with their names. Purple scrollwork, and below is a monster's head in black and red.
  • Height: 14.6cm
  • Width: 10.5cm
Gallery label
PLAQUE Porcelain Cameos of Roman Emperors ITALY (DOCCIA); about 1750-60 Gift of Mr G. McN. Rushforth C.128-1924 (Label draft attributed to John V. G. Mallet, ca. 1995)(ca. 1995)
Credit line
Given by Mr G. McN. Rushforth
Object history
Provenance: The Bohn collection (accesion register)
Subjects depicted
Bibliographic reference
Frescobaldi Malenchini, Livia ed. With Balleri, Rita and Rucellai, Oliva, ‘Amici di Doccia Quaderni, Numero VII, 2013, The Victoria and Albert Museum Collection’, Edizioni Polistampa, Firenze, 2014 ppp. 36-37, Cat. 11 11. Plaque with cameos of Roman emperors circa 1750 hard-paste porcelain painted in colours and gold h 15,5 cm; width 10,2 cm no mark inv: C.128-1924 gift: Mr G. McN. Rushforth Oval plaque with a stylized flower at the top and a grotesque mask at the bottom. The plaque has a green ground on which there are cameos with profiles of Roman emperors in gilded frames: Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, Pertinax, Julian and Pescennius Niger. In the lower part of the plaque there is a large cameo in the centre with Trajan and his wife Plotina on one side and his sister Marciana and her daughter Matidia on the other. There are fluttering white ribbons next to each of the medallions with the names of the people they represent. This type of decoration is inspired by glyptic art, that is, the carving of designs on gems which was used in Antiquity and became an important source of inspiration in the early years of production at Doccia (BENINI 1989, p. 62- 67; BIANCALANA 2009, p. 40; D’AGLIANO 2010, p. 76-79;DI GIUGNO 2011). Joannon de Saint Laurent of Lorraine, a collaborator of Carlo Ginori, gave the marquis the idea of using this technique for porcelain (BIANCALANA 2009, p. 40, p. 111-113). The first reference to these cameos is found on August 28th 1747 when a payment was registered to the sculptor Antonio Francesco Selvi “for making 6 cameo models in wax” (AGL, Libro Contabile, 1746-1749, 1747, fol. 206v).The sculptor Anton Filippo Maria Weber supplied the wax models for 57 little portraits of Caesars: on November 16th 1749 the payment to Weber is registered “to settle the account for several models in wax to be used to make snuff boxes and ornaments with cameos” related to a receipt “for a model and two moulds to make an ornament with the heads of ten Caesars” (GINORI LISCI 1963, p. 140, plateXXVIII; LANKHEIT 1982, p. 148). In fact, the snuff boxes were probably the first objects to be decorated with porcelain cameos (GINORI LISCI 1963, p. 52, fig. 28); the chief modeler at Doccia, the sculptor Gaspero Bruschi, was also actively involved in the production of cameos and this fact reveals the particular interest that Carlo Ginori must have had in these objects and in the techniques that were used to create plaques like this one (BIANCALANA 2009, p. 50).On the basis of this document, as well as its shape and colours, the plaque can be dated to around 1750. Oval plaques with cameos like this one are also mentioned in the inventory of the porcelain present at Doccia on the death of Carlo Ginori in 1757: “19 little bas-reliefs with cameos. Painted pieces at £. 2”; objects of this type are also referred to later on, in a list dated 1758 called Inventario delle Porcellane e Maioliche della Fabbrica di Doccia fatto il dj 19 giugno 1758 per il dj 30 Aprile 1758, they mention: “22 Porcelain 37 plaques with scenes and a group of white cameos” (AGL, I, 2, f. 37, Fabbrica delle Porcellane di Doccia. Scritture e documenti, fasc. 8). For an identical plaque see D’AGLIANO 2010, p. 314; for other similar plaques, see one at the Museo del Castello Sforzesco in Milan (MELEGATI 1999, p. 78) and in a private collection (BIANCALANA 2009, p. 112) and others (BIANCALANA 2013, p. 158-163). This plaque was purchased as a product of Capodimonte at a Sotheby’s auction on May 16th 1924, lot 270, together with another similar one (on the problem of mistaken attributions of Doccia objects to Capodimonte, see MARITANO 2012, p. 14-17). A.B. Bibliography: GINORI LISCI 1963, plate XXVIII; BIANCALANA 2013, p. 161
Accession number

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Record createdSeptember 28, 1998
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