Upcoming Events

A Body for Stubbs

Research Seminar – Iris Moon

  • 6 March 2024
  • 5:00 – 7:00 pm
  • A Paul Mellon Centre Research Seminar by Iris Moon, Associate Curator, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Paul Mellon Centre and Online

This talk focuses on the relationship between the painter George Stubbs and the potter and entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood, and the work Reapers (1795). Alongside his commercial work making horse pictures for the landed gentry, Stubbs set out to create pictures of a more experimental nature executed on atypical surfaces, among them the oval ceramic tablets that Wedgwood created for him on demand. These were of an unusually large size, equally difficult to paint on, and fire in the kiln. Why was the horse painter drawn to the potter’s platters? Based on new material from Melancholy Wedgwood (MIT Press, 2024), my talk questions traditional readings of Wedgwood and the heritage paintings of Stubbs and, more broadly, notions of the eighteenth century as a foundational moment in Britain’s rise as a global commercial, financial and industrial power. At the centre of this revisionist story is capitalism, empire and exploitation. Found there too are babies, women, animals and ceramics, among other lost figures not usually at the centre of eighteenth-century British art. Stubbs and Wedgwood take on new meanings when seen through the twisted prism of our own moment, amidst the ruins of late capitalist modernity. 

Image credit: George Stubbs, Reapers, 1795, enamel on Wedgwood biscuit earthenware, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

About the speaker

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    Iris Moon is associate curator in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she is responsible for European ceramics and glass. At the Met, she participated in the reinstallation of the British Galleries, and she is currently planning an exhibition on Chinoiserie, women and the porcelain imaginary that will open in 2025. She is the author of Luxury after the Terror, and co-editor with Richard Taws of Time, Media, and Visuality in Post-Revolutionary France. A new book on Wedgwood, generously supported by a publication grant from the Paul Mellon Centre, will be published next year with MIT Press. In addition to curatorial work, she teaches at Cooper Union.