Portland Vase
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, British
Portland Vase
Other Titles
Former Title: Copy of the Portland Vase, first edition
Work Type
c. 1795
Level 2, Room 2220, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, Rococo and Neoclassicism in the Eighteenth Century
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Physical Descriptions
25.8 x 18.5 cm diam. (10 3/16 x 7 5/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: inner lip, manganese pencil, handwritten: J. Trevor
  • inscription: inner lip, manganese pencil, handwritten: 9
John Trevor, 1797. He paid £27 IIs on February 12 1799, per Gorely (see bibliography).
Phillips, London, England, Sold to Mrs. Winans, 1876. Per Gorely (see bibliography)
Mrs. Winans, bought from Phillips, London, 1876, Sold to Richard Tangye, 1882. Per Gorely (see bibliography)
Sir Richard Tangye, Birmingham, England, Purchased from Mrs. Winans, 1882.
Frederick Rathbone, London, England, sold to Grenville L. Winthrop, 1913.
Grenville Lindall Winthrop, New York, NY, Purchased from Rathbone, 1913, Bequest to the Fogg Art Museum, 1943. Winthrop paid £420.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

Label Text: 32Q: 2220 18th-19th Century , written 2014
The original Greco-Roman Portland Vase was made from cameo glass in the first century CE. In 1786, the Duke of Portland lent it to Josiah Wedgwood, who promptly set his artists to copying it and manufacturing meticulous replicas. Early versions of the vase cracked in the firing process or failed to achieve the desired appearance. Wedgwood’s artisans struggled for four years to perfect their material and techniques, developing a blue-black clay to evoke the dark opaque glass of the original. Ultimately a limited edition — of which this is number nine — was sold, mostly through special viewings at the Wedgwood showroom. The name of John Trevor, who acquired this example from the manufacturer in 1797, is written inside the lip of the vase. One of Wedgwood’s most celebrated works, this was the first example from the subscription edition to enter an American collection. In the early twentieth century, this elaborate wooden stand was built to showcase the figure of Paris at the base of the vase.

Publication History

Jean Gorely, "The Winthrop Collection", Old Wedgwood, Wellesley Press, Inc. (Wellesley, MA, 1943), no. 10, pp. 132-139, p. 135

Old Wedgwood from the Bequest of Grenville Lindall Winthrop, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1944), no. 92, p. 36-38; repr. p. 92

Wolf Mankowitz, The Portland Vase and the Wedgwood Copies, A. Deutsch (London, England, 1952), pp. 44, 47

Dorothy W. Gillerman, Gridley McKim-Smith, and Joan R. Mertens, Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1969), no. 137, p. 215

Aileen Dawson, Masterpieces of Wedgwood in the British Museum, exh. cat., British Museum Publications Limited (London, England, 1984), p. 149, no. 9

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), no. 245, p. 213, repr.

Judith A. Neiswander, "Selections from the Ceramics Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University", Ars Ceramica, Wedgwood Society of New York (Bronx, NY, 1991), no. 8, p. 38, repr. as fig. 5

Stephan Wolohojian, Ingres, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Renoir... La Collection Grenville L. Winthrop, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2003), p. 27, fig. 9

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press (New York, NY, 2003), p.14, fig. 9

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 129, repr.

Jean Gorely, "Pedigreed Wedgwood", The Magazine Antiques (January 1945), pp. 29-31, p. 30

Vivian Scheidemantel Hawes, [Editorial], National Antiques Review (January 1974), p. 5

[Reproduction only], "Porcelain and Pottery", Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, November 1943)., repr. in b/w, p. 66

Exhibition History

Old Wedgwood from the Bequest of Grenville Lindall Winthrop, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/04/1944 - 09/03/1944

Old Wedgwood, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/19/1973 - 05/27/1973

Eighteenth Century European Ceramics, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/02/2005 - 06/09/2008

Re-View: S424-426 Western Art from 1560 to 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

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Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted