18th Century Decorative Arts & Paintings Gallery Level 2, NGV International
Medallion portrait of Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) in blue jasper dip, is a rare example of a work signed by the modeller. The previous owner inscribed on the reverse that the medallion was made with some Sydney clay, which had been sent to Wedgwood in 1788 by Capt Phillip. Displayed in frame.
Isaac Whitehead Melbourne
The frame uses composition ornament on a wooden chassis. Burnished water gilding has been used to accent the sight edge and parts of the flowers and leaves at the corners. The slip is water gilded. The remainder of the frame appears to be oil gilded. A recess in a wooden oval, covered with scarlet plush, houses the stoneware medallion. The surface of the plush has been embellished with impressed pattern work in each of the four corners, in the same way that a gilded oval flat might be ornamented with composition detail. The working edge is painted.
The frame is in near perfect original condition, though the scarlet plush has faded substantially.
27.5 x 25.8 x 0.5 cm
This delightful little frame is in exceptional condition and forms an interesting companion to the frames by Fletcher and Thallon on miniatures in the collection. All three examples present small-scale works in frames that are scaled down from large format frames used for paintings. This frame is the one mentioned in the NGV Register of Accounts 1870–72: paid Isaac Whitehead, February 1, 1870 for: (among a list of items) – Medallion framed.1 The frame is not the original framing or presentation of the medallion. It reflects a preference of the NGV after acquisition. Whitehead produced other frames for small-scale works, notably a suite of sixty-eight paintings of distinguished gentlemen, now in the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery.2
1 PROV 5866, NGV Register of Accounts 1870–72, Unit 1. I am grateful to Liana Fraser for this reference (from research carried out in various archives for the Conservation Department in 1995).
2 This information was brought to my attention by Anne Rowland, Registrar, Ballarat Fine Art Gallery.