Portland vase

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Portland vase,

a Roman glass vase, known also as the Barberini vase. It is an unusually fine work of the late Augustan era (early 1st cent. B.C.). About 10 in. (25 cm) high and 22 in. (56 cm) in circumference, it is made of a deep, violet-blue glass overlaid with opaque, white glass into which figures are cut in cameo relief. The mythological scene probably represents Peleus and Thetis accompanied by Poseidon on one side and Aphrodite on the other; on the bottom there is a bust of a young man in a Phrygian cap, possibly Paris. The vase, found in an ancient marble sarcophagus excavated at Monte del Grano near Rome in the pontificate of Urban VIII (1623–44), was placed in the palace of the Barberini family. Sold c.1782, it passed through several hands until acquired by the Duke of Portland. It was lent in 1810 to the British Museum. While on loan it was vandalized and completely shattered (1845) but was so skillfully reconstructed that little trace of the destruction remains. In 1945 it was bought by the British Museum. The vase has been widely reproduced and copied; the most famous replicas were made (c.1789) in jasper ware by Josiah Wedgwood.


See W. Mankowitz, The Portland Vase and the Wedgwood Copies (1954).

References in periodicals archive ?
Wedgwood was assisted with the relief work on the Portland Vase by Josiah II and by the modellers Hackwood and Henry Webber (1754-1826).
FACTFILE Josiah Wedgwood's copy of the Portland vase Black jasper with white reliefs, this vase is a copy after the famous Roman cameo-glass vase once owned by the Duchess of Portland.
Among the many relics that have stubbornly refused deciphering at London's British Museum, none has caused more head scratching by scholars than a cobalt blue urn known as the Portland vase, so named for the Dowager Dutchess of Portland, its early owner.
The ancient Egyptians produced it and one of the most famous pieces of glass from antiquity - the Portland Vase - consists of blue glass cased with a layer of white.
The reproduction of the Portland Vase in 1789 was regarded as one of the applied arts triumphs of its time, but it wasn't achieved without trialand error, and the display includes several unsuccessful attempts revealing firing problems.
At its height in the 1880s production of cameo glass at Stourbridge engaged over 150 skilled men, due largely to the popularity of the Portland Vase in the British Museum plus many wonderful snuff bottles from China in layered glass.
1845: The Portland Vase, a 10-inch Roman glass vessel dating from the 1st century BC, was smashed by a hooligan while on loan to the British Museum.
The Duchess is all but forgotten and her name lives on through the name of a rose and The Portland Vase, a Roman glass vessel from the 1st century BC which was one of the most important pieces in her museum.
The gallery is displaying some of the Greek vases he collected along with a Wedgwood copy of the Portland Vase, an iconic piece which was once in Sir William's possession.
Famous objects include the Rosetta Stone, sculptures from the Parthenon and the Portland Vase.
The rise in popularity of cameo glass can be traced back to Philip Pargeter and his reproduction of the Portland vase for patron John Northwood in 1873.
It was, of course, the famous Portland Vase to which Wedgwood was referring, and which represented his finest achievement in jasper ware, since recognised as the perfect synthesis of Wedgwood's genius with the limitations of the 18th century and all it could offer.

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