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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Salt-cellars, jasper ware, with polished inner surface, the outer surface decorated with applied moulded reliefs of the 'Dancing Hours'; applied guilloche-pattern ornament around the base and near the rim. Marked.

  • Producer name

  • Date

    • 1780-1790 (circa)
  • Production place

    • Factory in: Etruria term details
    • (Europe,United Kingdom,England,Staffordshire,Stoke-on-Trent,Etruria (England))
  • Materials

  • Ware

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 2.2 inches
    • Diameter: 3.4 inches
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        maker's mark
      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Content

        WEDGWOOD S 3
      • Inscription Comment

  • Curator's comments

    Dawson 1984
    This pair of drum-shaped salt cellars of solid blue jasper have a polished interior surface. This technique and the impressed mark suggest that they were manufactured in the last decade of Josiah Wedgwood's life. However, the reliefs which ornament the cellars were modelled considerably earlier and are the best-known of all John Flaxman jun.'s works for Wedgwood. The subject, known as the 'Dancing Hours', was probably taken from de Mont-faucon's 'L'Antiquité Expliquée' a copy of which Josiah owned in 1770, and comes originally from a late Greek relief of the first or second century BC formerly in the Villa Borghese, Rome, and now in the Louvre, Paris. The first reference to the subject in Wedgwood's correspondence occurs in an undated letter from him to Bentley of September 1776 (E.25-18696) on the subject of 'Bass relief Vases' in which he mentions a drawing 'you sent for plain Vases to paint, which we find likewise very suitable for Bass reliefs particularly for the Dancing Hours'. By April 1778 it is clear that he had used the figures for a 'tablet' or plaque intended for a chimneypiece. It was subsequently used to ornament an extremely wide variety of pieces made at the Wedgwood factory. The salt cellars were evidently considered an admirable example of the potter's art well over 100 years ago as one has on the base a printed label from the National Exhibition of Works of Art held in Leeds in 1868.


  • Bibliography

    • Dawson 1984 p. 59, fig. 46 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G47/dc1

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


Pair of blue and white jasper ware salt-cellars with polished inner surface; exterior surface decorated with applied reliefs of the 'Dancing Hours'.

Pair of blue and white jasper ware salt-cellars with polished inner surface; exterior surface decorated with applied reliefs of the 'Dancing Hours'.

Reproduced by permission of the artist. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Image description



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Object reference number: MCT3168

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