Wedgwood Portland stoneware jug of white jasper with dark blue jasper dip decorated with white applied classical frieze in relief, sturdy applied rope-twist handle, impressed markings, date code, 1885, Victorian England. The decorative sprigging is finely applied with much detail; the frieze modeled after the notorious Roman Portland amphora vessel from Pompeii.
Height: 5 ¼ in., Width: 4 ½ in. (w/ handle)
Condition: It is in Excellent Vintage Condition; for accuracy only there are four small bubble bursts in the figures and some light breakage to the applied scene, this is from manufacture and is a common occurrence on Wedgwood- it is not damage. The sprigging and dip are clean and bright, overall Excellent.
The frieze is described in classical literature as follows:“Three figures of exquisite workmanship are placed by the side of a ruined column whose capital is fallen off, and lies at their feet with other disjointed stones, they sit on loose piles of stone beneath a tree … supposed to be an elm …a dream was believed to dwell under every leaf of it (Aeneid Virgil, 1, 281). In the midst of this group reclines a female figure … in her hand is an inverted torch … the elbow of the same arm resting on a stone support.. the other hand is raised and thrown over her drooping head. On the right of her sits a man, and on the left a woman, both supporting themselves on their arms, as people are liable to do when they are thinking intensely. They have their backs towards the [central] figure, yet their faces turned towards her… On the other compartment of this celebrated vase is exhibited… the first figure… who having passed through an open portal is descending into a dusky region, pointing his tow with timid and unsteady step, feeling as it were his way… Received by a beautiful female […with…] a large serpent… sitting down with her feet towards a figure [presumed] to be Pluto, but, turning back her face towards the man, she stretches forth her hand, and taking hold of his elbow, supports his tottering steps, as well as encourages him to advance.. The figure of Pluto, has grisly beard, and his having one foot buried in the earth… at the lowest part of the group, and resting his chin on his hand, and his arm upon his knee, receives the stranger-man with inquisitive attention… There is yet another figure, and this is Love. He precedes the descending spirit on expanded wings, lights him with his torch, and turning back his beautiful countenance beckons him to advance… In this compartment there are two trees, whose branches spread over the figures…seem to be the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life.” (Source: Many thanks to Agnes Vinas.)