The Portland Vase

Wedgwood’s most celebrated work was his reproduction of the Barberini or Portland Vase. The blue and white glass original was brought to England by Sir William Hamilton in 1784 and subsequently was acquired by the Dowager Duchess of Portland. It is made of glass layered in different colours, which was then carved to create the effect of relief – a technique called cameo glass – and was considered to be the most significant art-work from antiquity.

All the factory’s skills of throwing, turning and ornamenting were used in the jasper replicas, and, prior to firing, each bas-relief was further undercut for emphasis, to ensure that the true spirit of the original cameo-glass vase was captured. Many versions of the vase have been made by the factory since Josiah’s times, in a variety of bodies and sizes, and are still being made. In fact the vase has become so closely allied with the Wedgwood name that it is celebrated today as the company icon.