• A long and fruitful relationship with great artists has allowed Wedgwood to make objects of great beauty throughout its history.

Wedgwood and artists

  • by the Wedgwood Museum team

‘Blind Man’s Buff’ lamp case

Theme

This cylindrical jasper base is listed in the records of the factory as a ‘lamp case – eight inches’, a rather simplistic description for such a decorative piece. The case is made of white jasper, which in turn has received a black jasper ‘dip’ on the outer surface, and has then been ornamented with a continuous bas-relief of the subject ‘Blind Man’s Buff.’

In Wedgwood’s Ornamental Ware catalogues of the eighteenth century a variety of lamps and candelabra equipages are mentioned – though lamp cases are not specifically referred to in the text. The Etruria factory produced a range of lighting equipment including small ‘lamps after the antique’ in jasper, rosso antico and black basalt as well as oil lamps of tripod form and even cassolettes. The bas relief ‘Blind Man’s Buff’ was originally modelled for Wedgwood by John Flaxman junior in 1782, in response to Josiah’s request for – ‘…some groups of children, proper for bas relief to decorate the sides of Tea pots.’ Four drawings were initially sent to Wedgwood – ‘Blind Man’s Buff’, ‘A Game of Marbles’, and two featuring the ‘Triumph of Cupid’. It would seem that only ‘Blind Man’s Buff’ went on to be developed as a bas-relief. A bill from Flaxman to Wedgwood dated 28 March 1784 lists a ‘bas relief of boys in wax £11.0.6 - eleven pounds and six pennies.

The lamp case cylinder does not have a base – but a surviving example in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London intimates that a solid white jasper base, with moulded Chinese fretwork embossment, would have completed the jasper casing.

Catalogue

A cylindrical ‘lamp case – eight inches’ made of white jasper with a black Jasper ‘dip’, ornamented with a continuous bas-relief of the subject ‘Blind Man’s Buff.’ The bas-relief ‘Blind Man’s Buff’ was originally modelled for Wedgwood by John Flaxman Junior in 1782, in response to Josiah’s request for – ‘…some groups of children, proper for bas relief to decorate the sides of Tea pots.’