Bust of Bacchus

Josiah Wedgwood and Sons British

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 512

This monumental bust of Bacchus demonstrates Wedgwood’s exceptional skills in copying antique forms and modernizing them by using novel ceramic bodies such as black basalt. Probably intended to decorate a library, the bust is a copy of an ancient marble sculpture purchased by the earl of Shelburne in 1772. Once considered Emperor Hadrian’s lover Antinous, the bust is now thought to represent the ancient Roman god of wine and intoxication.

Bust of Bacchus, Josiah Wedgwood and Sons (British, Etruria, Staffordshire, 1759–present), Black basaltware, British, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

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