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Exhibition February 9, 2020 − January 3

Classic black: basalt sculptures of Wedgwood and contemporaries

Many of the basalt works displayed in the galleries were copied directly from works of art created in Ancient Greece and Rome, such as the busts of Homer and Socrates, gems and statues depicting gods and other mythological creatures, and coins with portraits of Julius Caesar and his successors. Among the many artists on display in basalt versions of their creations are Michelangelo, the sixteenth-century master, seventeenth-century Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and the eighteenth-century sculptor Louis François Rubillac. The Staffordshire potters also hired modelers and other craftsmen to create new designs for their basalt products.This exhibition is the first dedicated exclusively to black basalt sculptures created in England by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in the late 18th century. Works of art on display include life-size portrait busts, statues, vases and other exquisite sculptures, as well as low-relief works such as large plaques, portrait medallions, and medals. Among the pottery produced in large quantities in England at the end of the eighteenth century was black basalt. Josiah Wedgwood refined the fine-grained ceramic base in 1768 to create a darker color by adding manganese and carr, an iron oxide-rich slurry from coal mines, to the clay body. Many of the basalt works displayed in the galleries were copied directly from works of art created in Ancient Greece and Rome, such as the busts of Homer and Socrates, gems and statues depicting gods and other mythological creatures, and coins with portraits of Julius Caesar and his successors. Among the many artists on display in basalt versions of their creations are Michelangelo, the sixteenth-century master, seventeenth-century Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and the eighteenth-century sculptor Louis François Rubillac. The Staffordshire potters also hired modelers and other craftsmen to create new designs for their basalt products.

Based on site materials Mint Museum.