• 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

Portland Vase - Ivanhoe Series


In later years artists have gained considerable inspiration from Wedgwood’s iconic deisgns and patterns. In this instance Thomas Allen has adapted the most iconic piece of all – the Portland vase.

Thomas Allen was one of the greatest ceramic artists of the l9th century and joined Wedgwood around late 1875 or early 1876 after a spell working for Minton. In his role as the company’s first art director Allen had control of a studio of artists. Under his influence the output and range of studio and art wares grew greatly.

Here Allen takes his influence from the Ivanhoe stories by Sir Walter Scott, and this version of the Portland vase features characters from the novel. The striking surface-pattern design can seem, to some, to be at odds with this most traditional of Wedgwood vases.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the Portland vase shape was reproduced in everyday ceramic bodies such as Queen’s ware and pearlware, rather than the more traditional highly ornamental wares such as jasper. This copy of the vase is impressed with a coded date mark – 3PG – for 1913.

Factory records show that other unlikely surface patterns used to decorate the Portland vase shape included the traditional Willow pattern, and a transfer-printed design known as Ferrara.


Wedgwood’s art director Thomas Allen was responsible for the design of this very Victorian piece. Here characters from the ‘Ivanhoe’ series, inspired by the Sir Walter Scott’s novel, have been used as decoration on this iconic shape. During the late nineteenth century, when this piece was made, the Portland Vase shape was made in a variety of ceramic bodies – but rarely was it decorated in this manner.