Josiah Wedgwood (British, 17301795)
Jasper; H. 10 3/8 in. (26.4 cm)
Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1894 (94.4.172)
This ambitious vase is a copy of a celebrated Roman work, which was made of cameo glass in the first century A.D. In 1783, Margaret Bentinck, second duchess of Portland, bought the Roman piece from the Barberini family; it has since been known as the Portland Vase. The sensation that the acquisition caused probably prompted Wedgwood to create his jasper copy around 1789. The first edition sold to a small group of subscribers, but the Wedgwood factory at Etruria in Staffordshire produced the vases for decades, and buyers continued to appreciate Wedgwood's art as well as the classical pedigree of the vase itself.