Wedgwood and Artists: Portland Vase – Ivanhoe Series

Wedgwood and Artists: Portland Vase – Ivanhoe Series

In later years artists gained considerable inspiration from Wedgwood’s iconic designs and patterns. In this instance, Thomas Allen has adapted the most iconic piece of all: the Portland vase.

Thomas Allen was one of the greatest ceramic artists of the 19th century and joined Wedgwood around late 1875 or early 1876, after a spell working for Minton. In his role as the company’s first art director, Allen had control of a studio of artists. Under his influence the output and range of studio and art wares grew greatly.

Here, Allen takes his influence from the Ivanhoe stories by Sir Walter Scott - the Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright and historian.   This version of the Portland vase features characters from the novel. The striking surface-pattern design can seem, to some, to be at odds with this most traditional of Wedgwood vases.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Portland vase shape was reproduced in everyday ceramic bodies, such as Queen’s ware and pearlware, rather than the more traditional highly ornamental wares like jasper. This copy of the vase is impressed with a coded date mark: 3PG for 1913.

Factory records show that other unlikely surface patterns used to decorate the Portland vase shape included the traditional Willow pattern and a transfer-printed design known as Ferrara.