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Darwin Correspondence Project

2.5 Wedgwood medallions, 2nd type

Two identical oval medallions in green jasper in the Wedgwood Museum, portraying Darwin’s head in profile, are different from the rest. The portrayal was apparently taken not from Woolner’s model of 1869, but from the Royal Society’s Darwin medal, which was cast in gold and also in other metals for presentation to outstanding natural scientists. The RS medal was designed by the professional medallist Allan Wyon c.1885–1889, and was first awarded (to Alfred Russel Wallace) in 1890. It is known that William Darwin, and perhaps other members of the Darwin family, possessed a copy of the Royal Society medal, but the circumstances surrounding the commission for a Wedgwood reproduction have not been ascertained. William, himself a Wedgwood enthusiast, may have wished to create a version in jasperware with a commemorative purpose, or the initiative may have come from the Wedgwood firm itself.  

  • physical location Victoria & Albert Museum (Wedgwood collection, Barlaston) 

  • accession or collection numbers WE.5174-2016 and WE.5183-2016 

  • copyright holder V&A Wedgwood collection 

  • originator of image Allan Wyon, interpreted by an unidentified ceramicist 

  • date of creation unknown, possibly c. 1890 

  • medium and material white on green jasper 

  • references and bibliography Darwin Centenary: The Portraits, Prints and Writings of Charles Robert Darwin, exhibited at Christ’s College, Cambridge, 1909 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1909), p. 24, no. 124, ‘Darwin medal of the Royal Society lent by William Darwin’ and p. 31, no. 164, ‘Portrait medallion of Charles Darwin by Allen [sic] Wyon, bronze, lent by George Darwin. See also catalogue entry for the Royal Society Darwin medal. 



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