Painted wax medallion portrait or profile bust of Josiah Wedgwood I (1730-1795) in a molded wooden frame, which is inscribed "I Flaxman" along the truncated shoulder and "Josiah Wedgwood / i - 62" printed in white under the bust. Born into a family of potters, Josiah Wedgwood started his own business in 1759, and established a partnership in 1769 with Thomas Bentley (1730-1780), a cosmopolitan Liverpool merchant, which concentrated on wares for interior decoration. Although the artist John Flaxman modeled many portrait images and designs for Josiah Wedgwood, this portrait image of Josiah Wedgwood was modeled by William Hackwood. The attribution is based on two things: a reference in Josiah Wedgwood's Oven Book dated April 20, 1782, and a version in black basalt in the British Museum's collection has his initials "WH" on the lower shoulder -- see British Museum Collection # 1887,0307,I.91. In 1775, Wedgwood and Bentley hired John Flaxman Jr. (1755-1826), a Royal Academy student and son of John Flaxman Sr., a London plaster cast maker and seller from whom Wedgwood and Bentley made regular purchases. John Jr. was hired as a modeler of classic and domestic friezes, cameos, plaques, ornamental vessels and medallion portraits in Wedgwood's jasperware and basaltware. Towards the end of the 18th century, modeling of medallion portraits and of relief groups, the latter frequently polychromatic, was in considerable vogue throughout Europe. Flaxman executed many portraits and other relief figures in wax, which Josiah Wedgwood translated into pottery. From 1775 to 1787, Flaxman designed a large body of neoclassical designs for production by the Wedgwood Factory; from 1787 to 1794, Flaxman lived in Rome where he directed the work of other modellers working in Wedgwood's Rome studio and also accepted other commissions. After his return to London in 1794, he became a full Academician of the Royal Academy and completed a number of major commissions thoughout Great Britain. The Science & Society Picture Library in London has a portrait medallion of Wedgwood taken from this wax bust which they date to the 1760s. On November 18, 2006, an English auction house (Old Town Auctions) auctioned a "Rare multi coloured wax profile bust of Josiah Wedgwood signed by J. Flaxman 1763." The bust has neck-length, dark-brown curly hair or wig, dark brown neck scarf, beige cravat, and brown waistcoat with buttons and coat, and is set against a black background. The National Portrait Gallery in London has two plaster casts of medallions of similar profile busts of John Flaxman and his wife, Anne Flaxman, where the original wax portraits, from which these medallions were cast, were probably made while the Flaxmans lived in Rome under Wedgwood's sponsorship.
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