Past Events

Heads and Hands: Josiah Wedgwood's Jasper Portrait Medallions

Research Lunch – Brigid von Preussen

  • 13 November 2015
  • 12:30 – 2:00 pm
  • Seminar Room, Paul Mellon Centre

Josiah Wedgwood’s first foray into portraiture in the early 1770s coincided with his experimental development of ‘jasperware’, the new ceramic body that would arguably become his manufactory’s signature production. This paper will use Wedgwood’s jasper portrait medallions to explore the tensions in eighteenth-century portraiture between a recognisable ‘likeness’, a distinctive artistic ‘hand’, and an image’s participation in larger series that ostensibly transcended such individual characteristics. The heterogeneous origins and multiple authorship of each medallion were obfuscated by the homogeneity of their format, medium, and classicising visual language, enabling them to function not only as portraits of their individual subjects, but also as self portraits of Wedgwood-as-brand.

Side portrait of man on medallion

Portrait medallion of Benjamin Franklin, jasper, Wedgwood and Bentley, Etruria Factory, c.1778-80

Digital image courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art

All are welcome! However, places are limited, so if you would like to attend please contact our Events Co-ordinator, Ella Fleming on events@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk

This is a free event and lunch is provided.