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Wedgwood black basalt ‘Portland Vase’, c. 1850.


Wedgwood black basalt and white jasper ‘Portland Vase’, c. 1850. The classical form vase, decorated in white jasper relief, with a continuous Classical scene, of figures in a garden setting. The twin angular handles, terminating in bearded masks.
The base with a depiction of Paris, wearing a Phrygian cap.

Impressed factory mark ‘WEDGWOOD’, in upper case capitals.

Height – 19.5 cm, 7 5/8”.

Diameter – 13 cm, 5 1/8”.

Condition – Excellent. No damage. No restoration.

This is a well known example, by Wedgwood, copying the famous ‘cameo’ style glass amphora created in Roman times, between 1st C. BC and 1st C. AD., and now housed in the British Museum, London.
There are several explanations as to what the scenes actually depict.
The most widely held belief, is that it is a representation of the wedding of Thetis and Peleus, from Greek mythology.
Others suggest that it may illustrate the dreams of Alexandra the Greats mother, Olympias. Whilst a similar story of Julia Mammaea, and Emperor Alexander Severus, has been mooted.
There is a suggestion that Eros is seen flying above Mark Antony, and Cleopatra, with the reverse depicting Venus observing the consolation of Octavia, by Augustus.
What is not in doubt, is the fact that the vase is one of the most famous works from antiquity, and a masterpiece of Roman art.