Black Basalt Figure of Voltaire by Wedgwood

  • This exceptional black basalt figurine by Wedgwood depicts the great philosopher Voltaire
  • The figure is based on marble carved in 1773 by the Swiss sculptor Jean-Claude Rosset
  • A slightly earlier example by Wedgwood is in the collection of the British Museum
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 30-7949

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The philosopher and playwright Voltaire, one of the French Enlightenment's greatest minds, is immortalized in this black basalt portrait figurine by Wedgwood. The intricately detailed figure is placed on a small marble base carved in 1773 by the Swiss sculptor Jean-Claude Rosset, also known as DuPont. Wedgwood issued their first model of the sculpture shortly thereafter in 1778, and an example of these earlier figurines executed in caneware is currently in the collection of the British Museum (London).

The present work is executed in black basalt, a material that is considered one of Josiah Wedgwood's most revolutionary creations. First developed in the 1760s, this rich, smooth stoneware was especially suitable for casting and was used for a myriad of items, including vases, urns, and remarkable sculptural forms such as this portrait figurine.

Stamped “WEDGWOOD E” and “VOLTAIRE”

19th century

10 7/8" high x 5 1/2" wide x 4" deep
Black Basalt Figure of Voltaire by Wedgwood
Maker: Wedgwood
Period: 19th Century
Origin: England
Type: Figurines/Statuettes
Depth: 4.0 Inches
Width: 5.5 Inches
Height: 10.88 Inches
Style: Basalt

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