|Wax is one of the earliest known mediums
for portraiture. Miniature wax portraits executed in
bas-relief were exceedingly popular from the mid 18th century
until the introduction and popularization of photography in the
The portraits were generally
intended for reproduction in small quantities by use of a
plaster mold for the sitter's family, but larger quantities were
made of popular heroes with a wider appeal. The finished
portrait, usually under 4", and in shallow relief, was mounted
on reverse painted glass, wax covered plaster or a sheet of wax
and then framed.
Josiah Wedgwood took advantage of the popularity of the
wax portraits and hired modelers to create over two thousand images to be
reproduced in jasper ware. The resulting medallions pictured the crowned heads
of Europe, the Emperors of Rome and his "illustrious moderns".
In my work, I have tried to
adhere to the high sculptural standards for portraiture in the 18th and
early 19th century. I intend to recreate the look, color and
texture as well as the scale of the earlier wax portraits.
In beginning a portrait, I refer to art of the
time, searching for paintings, drawings and sculpture of the person to
be portrayed. Usually several sources are available to me. In the case
of military attire, I closely recreate what is shown in the art.
In civilian dress, I have a little more freedom.
I hope the resulting bas-relief
captures the spirit of the earlier portraits and brings the person portrayed a
little closer to our time.