Wedgwood Portland Vase

Portland Vase

Bonhams March 8 sale includes a remarkable, though flawed piece of early Wedgwood estimated to sell for £7,000 to £10,000.

Pictured right: The Lord Dacre Copy: an important Wedgwood trial ‘First Edition’ Portland vase circa 1787-90 cast in ‘Barberini Black’ jasper, applied in white relief with the myth of Peleus and Thetis, the basal disc with a portrait believed to be of Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, the crisp reliefs with characteristic undercutting, 26.5cm high, unmarked (some kiln blisters and other evidence of misfiring, some losses to the relief at the rim of the base disk and to the head of one male figure, minor chipping around the footrim)

Portland vases are named after their distinguished owners, and this previously unrecorded example belonged to the eminent academic Lord Dacre, the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914- 2003). The Portland Vase was Josiah Wedgwood’s greatest accomplishment. He had to get the mix of clay and firing temperature just right and there were times when vase after vase failed in the kiln.

Eventually the master potter triumphed, and the almost faultless example in the British museum is testament to his achievement. Sadly the Lord Dacre copy is flawed – the neck sank and blisters erupted on the body in the intense heat of the kiln. Nevertheless it is still a remarkable piece of 18th century pottery and an important insight into the experimental work of Britain’s greatest ceramicist

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