Enormous Portrait Medallion: Dr Priestly.
Dr Joseph Priestly (1733-1844) was a Presbyterian preacher and an important chemist, remembered principally as the man who discovered oxygen, which he described as “dephlogisticated air”; although during his lifetime he was mostly known as the inventor of soda-water. He was a friend of Wedgwood, who made laboratory apparatus for him.
This portrait is from a model by Cerracchi, made for a series of large portraits in 1779. The example at hand was made by Bert Bentley, who made examples from all the moulds surviving when he worked at Wedgwood, most of them unique.
‘Dr Priestly is arriv’d and we are with great reverence taking off his Presbyterian parson’s wig and preparing Sr I Newton as a companion to him’ – Josiah Wedgwood in a letter to Thomas Bentley, 1779.
Stock Number 4047