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In the late 1770s the pottery firm Wedgwood & Bentley produced several jasper stoneware portrait medallions depicting scientists and collectors connected with Cook's Pacific voyages.
Potter Josiah Wedgwood decided there was a market for cameo portraits of famous people — or 'illustrious moderns' as he called them. The celebrity status of the scientists who sailed to the Pacific made them ideal subjects for Wedgwood. Well-to-do collectors stored their medallions in display drawers, set them into furniture or hung them on the walls of stately homes.
Right: This engraving shows the English potter and industrialist Josiah Wedgwood (1730–95). Courtesy: The Print Collector.
In 1775, following the first voyage, Wedgwood chose to portray the Endeavour's botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander.
Collector Johann Reinhold Forster's portrait appeared in 1776, within a year of his return from the second voyage.
James Cook's portrait came in 1777, after he was recognised by the Royal Society.
Left: Wedgwood's medallions were based on Greek and Roman cameos like this one from 165 AD. Courtesy: Louvre, Paris, France, Peter Willi/The Bridgeman Art Library.