A natural material made by the decomposition of different types of rock, its availability and malleability make it a popular material for sculpting. When mixed with water it becomes a paste that can be shaped and when fired it becomes hard and durable. The mixture of components varies greatly, so clays vary in their colour and texture, as well as in workability and how they react to firing. In portrait sculpture clay is more often used as part of the sculptural process for modelling. Many bronzes start as clay models before they are fired.

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Joseph Collet, by Amoy Chinqua, 1716 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Joseph Collet
by Amoy Chinqua
NPG 4005

Harold Wilson, by Geoffrey Davien,  - NPG  - Photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London

Harold Wilson
by Geoffrey Davien
NPG D2731

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