Architectural plaques

Josiah Wedgwood's innovative bodies, notably jasper and black basalt, were ideally suited to the manufacture of plaques for incorporation into architectural design schemes.

They were generally rectangular, oval or round, and depicted scenes taken from classical myth, contemporary allegory, or portraits of gods or ancient heroes such as Hercules, Aesculapius, Music and the Arts. Others commemorated political current events such as the Anglo-French Trade Treaty. George Stubbs designed his Frightened Horse plaque, which was produced in black basalt.

The classical designs included scenes of the Muses, the Apotheosis of Homer, the Birth of Bacchus, the Sacrifice to Flora and the Dancing Hours. The contemporary themes included Charlotte at the Tomb of Werther, taken from Goethe's novella, the Domestic Employment series and Poor Maria with her dog Sylvio from Laurence Sterne's Sentimental Journey.

The leading architects of the day favoured them for embellishing fireplaces and plinths. The smaller plaques were popular for decorating furniture and domestoc items.

 

 

Images

Dancing Hours plaque, adapted from an Italian marble chimneypiece then at Moor Park in Hertfordshire, now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight. Made of solid pale blue jasper with a darker blue surface wash, with white relief figures. Attributed to John Flaxman Jr, 1778–80

Dancing Hours plaque, adapted from an Italian marble chimneypiece then at Moor Park in Hertfordshire, now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight. Made of solid pale blue jasper with a darker blue surface wash, with white relief figures. Attributed to John Flaxman Jr, 1778–80