The Wedgewood Pottery produced at least five different jasperware portrait medallions of George Washington between 1777 and 1879. The first profile portrait bust was based on a bronze medal designed by Voltaire and struck in Paris in 1777. This medallion featured a classically inspired "Washington" with short, cropped hair and toga in the model of a Roman Caesar. The medallion illustrated here is most likely the fourth version produced by the pottery. This was based on an etching by Joseph Wright and began production in 1789.
Josiah Wedgewood (1730-1795) expressed concern initially with the production of the Washington medallions proclaiming the subject, "at this time more absolute than any Despot in Europe how then can he be celebrated, in such circumstances, as the Patron of Liberty!" (See Reilly and Savage, Wedgewood: The Portrait Medallions (London, 1973), pp. 331-332; and Klamkin, American Patriotic and Political China (New York, 1973), pp.60-69).