The Portland Vase

1880Josiah Wedgwood & Sons LtdEnglish, 1760 to presentjasperware with white relief10 1/8 in. × 4 15/16 in. (25.7 cm. × 12.5 cm.)

Bequest of Mrs. Sylvia E. Ross


The Roman cameo-glass vessel known as the Portland Vase was so admired that it had barely arrived in England when Josiah Wedgwood, the innovative English manufacturer, began creating ceramic copies to “suit the tastes, the wants, and the purses of different purchasers.” An enduring form, copies of the Portland Vase were made throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth century. The original today captivates visitors at the British Museum. Renowned collector Sir William Hamilton shipped the ancient glass vase to England in 1783 and later sold it to the Duchess of Portland for whom it is named. A superb example of cased cameo glass, the vase is comprised of glass layers on a blue-black ground, carved with the mythological figures of Peleus and Thetis.

—Laura Fecych Sprague