Collections: Portland Vase

Published: 15 December 2021

Museum collections are endlessly fascinating and hold all kinds of quirky and interesting objects.

Take the Portland Vase for instance…Leicester Museums & Galleries do not own the Portland Vase – a magnificent Roman cameo glass vase dating from  between AD 1 and AD 25, which can be found at the British Museum. See the original Portland Vase on the British Museum's website.

It was named after the owners at the time of it coming to the British Museum (the 4th Duke of Portland) and was lent to Josiah Wedgewood where it was described as "the finest production of Art that has been brought to England…’ and reproduced to great acclaim. The vase became so popular that it was copied by other companies and in other mediums such as silver.

Leicester Museums & Galleries are lucky however, in having two replicas of the vase. One was made from earthenware by Lowesby Pottery – a Leicestershire pottery, in 1835 – 1840. It is slip painted and burnished and moulded with the classical scenes of the original on sides and base. It is painted with a black and white slip, with an impressed mark on base of a fleur-de-lys above Lowesby in semi-circle.

Leicester Museums Portland Vase (left) and Prtlnd Vase (right)
Leicester Museums Portland Vase (left) and Prtlnd Vase (right)

Our second copy is called the 'Prtlnd Vase' and was made by Michael Eden. It is 3D printed, made from high quality nylon with a soft mineral coating. Michael like to use visual information to re-interpret the designs of famous works of art and in this case has made a fascinating comparison sculpture

Credit lines:

Portland Vase, Purchased from Miss E N Booth

Prtlnd Vase, Purchased by the Art Fund for New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, 2013

Portland Vase Gallery