My project on images of Roman emperors (modern-style) is not going to be exclusively concerned with palaces and princes, with Mantegna's Triumphs and pricey sets of marble busts lining grand corridors. I am also trying to see how Roman imperial images entered the visual world of far more "ordinary" people. And one obvious category to explore are the small Wedgwood portrait medallions that come, like the one above, in black basalt ware, but also in characteristic Wedgwood blue. They are just a few centimetres tall.
I am only just beginning on this (and I know that a visit to the Wedgwood Museum and Archive is going to be a must), but I am beginning to get a sense of the questions. There has been some work done on these portrait medallions in general, but not a huge amount (if you think I am missing something big, do let me know). There are a whole range of them, from 256 popes (not a huge commercial success....unsurprisingly?) through kings, queens, philosophers and playwrights, to 78 Roman emperors and empresses (this wasn't just the 12 Caesars). And there was an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in the early 1970s. Some of the questions I want to raise, usually asked and not asked, are coming into focus.