John Flaxman (English, 17551826); Made by Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, Etruria/Staffordshire, England
Jasperware; H. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm), Diam. 5 1/8 in. (13 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1909 (09.194.7)
In 1775, Josiah Wedgwood perfected Jasperware, a kind of hard, fine-grained, slightly translucent stoneware that could be decorated by applying another color, customarily white, to the ground. The ground was often stained the well-known shade of "Wedgwood blue," but it could also be lavender, pale green, mustard yellow, cobalt, or other colors. Wedgwood's name became synonymous with Jasperware, and his international reputation was achieved by the popularity of these pieces often based on the shapes of Greek vases.
The sculptor John Flaxman (17551826) designed a large body of work for production by Wedgwood, including this cylindrical vase in the form of a miniature ancient Roman household altar made of blue jasper with white decoration in relief. The sides are divided by pilasters into six panels containing figures of the Muses Thalia, Urania, and Erato, alternating with pendant trophies with attributes of Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury (thunderbolt, spear and helmet, caduceus).