University Museums

Title: Shakespeare
Name: Portrait Medallion
Date: 1775-1779
Medium: Black basalt, metal frame
Country/Culture: English
Dimensions: 2 3/4 x 1 7/8 x 1/4 in. (7 x 4.8 x 0.6 cm)
Marks: the name 'SHAKESPEARE' impressed into the ground below the truncation, Impressed WEDGWOOD & BENTLEY.
Classification: Decorative Arts, Ceramics
Credit Line: Gift of M. Burton Drexler. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: UM2013.521
More Information
English poet and playwright; born Stratford-upon-Avon (Warwickshire), the son of John Shakespeare, a glover. The first portrait was modelled by William Hackwood in 1777 from a print and was reproduced in at least five sizes from about 95mm to the smallest cameo. All four versions were among Wedgwood's earliest portrait medallions. The medallion was mentioned with one of Garrick in two letters from Josiah Wedgwood to Thomas Bentley on 26 November 1777 (Wedgwood MS E.25-18797) and on 22 December 1777 (E.25-18805). It was modelled by William Hackwood after a print. A Shakespeare produced in black basalt or blue and white jasper, with or without a frame of the same material, is mentioned in A Catalogue of Cameos, Intaglios, Medals, Busts, Small Statues, and Bas-Reliefs . . . . made by Wedgwood and Bentley . . ., 5th ed, London, 1779, p. 44, under Class X, Section I, English Poets, '6 Shakespeare, several Models'.