Listen as former curator David Whitehouse describes this replica of the Portland Vase, an ancient Roman cameo glass object that was taken to England from Italy in 1783. The fame of the Portland Vase and of Josiah Wedgwood’s replicas, played a major role in the establishment of cameo glassmaking in England.
The leading promoter of the revival was Benjamin Richardson (1802–1887) of the Red House Glassworks at Wordsley, who employed many of the most talented glass engravers, etchers, and carvers of the day. Richardson inspired his craftsmen, but also offered £1000 to anyone who could reproduce the Vase in cameo glass. His challenge was taken up by two of his employees: Philip Pargeter, who in 1873 supervised the production of the first cased blank shaped like the Vase (it was blown by Daniel Hancock), and John Northwood, who between 1873 and 1876 carved one of Pargeter’s blanks into the first glass replica made by the cameo technique.
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