This portrait medallion is made from black basalt. It shows an image of Anne Stuart (1665-1714) who was queen of England from 1702 to 1714. Her long-term and intimate relationship with Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, (1660-1714), and several other women in her household, was the subject of gossip and speculation during her lifetime.
Anne met Sarah (then Jennings) when, as a six-year-old child, her mother died and she was placed in the care of Edward Villiers and his wife, Lady Frances at Richmond Palace. When they played together as young ladies-in-waiting, Sarah and Anne referred to each other by the nicknames ‘Mrs Morley’ and ‘Mrs Freeman’. They developed a close and intimate friendship that lasted for many years and throughout their marriages. Anne’s marriage to George, Electoral Prince of Hanover, in 1683, saw her assume the new title of Princess of Denmark. She stood firm by Sarah when their relationship was labelled an ‘immoderate passion’, inappropriate for a Princess and subjected to intense scrutiny by the Royal family. She even resisted the order of Queen Mary to end their relationship, reassuring Sarah of her ‘most sincere and tender passion’.
Josiah Wedgwood (born 1730, died 1795) first began producing portrait medallions, in the late 18th century, in response to a new demand for portraiture amongst the prosperous middle-classes. He first proposed medallions of George III, Queen Charlotte and other royal figures, knowing they would have wide popular appeal. By 1788 he had catlogued 857 portrait medals and medallions. The majority of Wedgwood's portrait medallions were not original, but were copied from existing mdeals, glass paste and horn medallions or wax portraits. The rest were modelled from engravings, drawings, paintings and sculptures by artists emloyed or commission by Wedgwood.