Aileen Dawson has written extensively on the British Museum Collection of 18th, 19th and 20th century Portrait Busts - below is an attempt to update her information on the 12 portrait busts by Roubiliac bought by Matthew Maty and presented to the BM.
see - Dawson, Aileen, Portrait Sculpture, a catalogue of the British Museum collection, c. 1675-1975, London, BMP, 1999
Isaac Barrow (1630 - 1677).
This unfinished working proof is the only impression that is known of the most ambitious engraving ever made of Charles I. Much confusion has been caused because it has traditionally been identified as being after the bust by Bernini that was destroyed in the Whitehall fire of 1698. This had been commissioned by Charles I who sent to Rome the triple portrait by van Dyck of 1635-6 (now in the Royal collection) for Bernini to work from. The bust was delivered to England in July 1637, the year after Voerst's death. This made the traditional attribution of this print to Voerst impossible.
The attribution of this print to Voerst seems sure. Stylistically it belongs to the first half of the seventeenth century; it is printed on paper of that period; and there was no-one else in England in the 1630s capable of engraving to this standard. If it is indeed by Voerst, the marble must have been made early in the year, and the plate was in the course of engraving when Voerst suddenly fell a victim to the plague. Whether it was commissioned by Charles or whether it was made by Voerst on his own account is unknown.
The painting remained in the possession of Bernini and his heirs in the Bernini Palace on the Via del Corso until c.1802, when it was sold to British art dealer William Buchanan and returned to England. It was exhibited at the British Gallery in 1821 and acquired for the Royal Collection in 1822, and is usually displayed at Windsor Castle.
There are numerous portraits of Cromwell.(3) A marble bust by Edward Pearce in the Museum of London, which is dated 1672, is the earliest three-dimensional image. As Nicholas Penny has remarked,(4) busts of Cromwell were exceedingly popular in the eighteenth century and were carved by all the leading sculptors, such as Rysbrack, Wilton and Nollekens, as well as Roubiliac. No study has yet been made of who purchased these busts, but the memory of the Protector appears to have lived on without attracting the opprobrium which might have been expected. Grosley remarks, 'I was shown at court the grand daughter or great grand daughter of Cromwell, a connexion which is not much considered as a mark of infamy as it is of honour and distinction.'(5) A marble by Francis Harwood was sold on the London market in July 1986,(6) and another in July 1997.(7) Nicholas Penny suggests that Harwood's portraits are in turn based on a marble which he attributes to Nollekens, and which depicts the sitter in armour,(8) but this attribution has been questioned by Malcolm Baker, who believes it is after all by Harwood.(9) Roubiliac himself created more than one image of the Protector, as his sale lists both 'medals' and a 'basso relievo'.(10) A terracotta medallion of Cromwell now in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto is discussed by John Mallet,(11) who describes it as 'very closely based on the bust presented by Doctor Maty to the British Museum' and 'a work of considerable power' whose 'characterization of the Protector's face is more convincing than in the British Museum bust'. Esdaile(12) considered it 'iconographically the least satisfactory of the Museum busts, which bears no close resemblance to any of the famous pictures' of the Protector, but points to the sculptor's 'revaluing of the entire personality' of the sitter. Whinney describes the terracotta as 'alert and virile'.(13)
Like that of the terracotta of King Charles I (see registration no. 1762,0528.6), the surface coating on this bust has been almost completely removed in the course of time. Traces of a dark brown surface layer remain on the face and hair, which can also be discerned on the collar and right shoulder. The head is hollow, and was probably made separately, the hair and collar effectively disguising the join, as on other terracottas in the collection.
(1) P. J. Grosley, Londres, 1770 edn, trans. Thomas Nugent as A Tour to London: or, New Observations on England and its Inhabitants, London, 1772, 2 vols (British Library pressmark 567 d 3), p. 216. Grosley's first visit to London was in 1765, but there appears to be no edition of his account of it earlier than 1770.
(2) For Scharf s drawing see fig. 7.
(3) D. Piper, 'The contemporary portraits of Oliver Cromwell', Walpole Society, XXXIV, 1952-4, pp. 27-41.
(4) N. Penny, Catalogue of European Sculpture in the Ashmolean Museum 1540 to the Present Day, III: British, Oxford, 1992, p. 142.
(5) Grosley, trans. Nugent, 1772, p. 66.
(6) Christie's, Important Marble Statuary, European Sculpture and Works of Art, 15 July 1986, lot 73, H. 62 cm, dated 1759, noted by Penny, 1992, p. 142.
(7) Sotheby's, European Sculpture and Works of Art, 2 July 1997, lot 264. A bust of Cromwell signed and dated F. Harwood Fecit 1759 was sold at Sotheby's New York, 10 January 1995, lot 66.
(8) Penny, 1992, no. 558.
(9) M. Baker, review of Penny, 1992, in Burlington Magazine, vol. CXXXVI, no. 1101, December 1994, p. 851.
(10) 'Lot 24 2nd day's sale 13 May 1762 - one of 4 "medals"; lot 25, one of 5 medals; lot 52, mould in same lot with Inigo Jones; lot 92, basso relievo of Inigo Jones and Oliver Cromwell; lot 33, 4th day's sale six medals of Pope, Inigo Jones, Mr Handell, Sir Isaac Newton, Mr. Garrick, and O. Cromwell'; see D. Bindman and M. Baker, Roubiliac and the Eighteenth-century Monument: Sculpture as Theatre, New Haven and London, 1995, Appendix B, pp. 362-9, for a transcription of Roubiliac's sale catalogues.
(11) J. V. G Mallet, 'Some portrait medallions by Roubiliac', Burlington Magazine, vol. CIV, no. 709, April 1962, p. 157, fig. 26.
(12) Esdaile, 1928, p. 104.
(13) Whinney, 1988, p. 224.
An old note by Hugh Tait records that the bust was seen by Vertue in 1738
Notes from British Museum Website see - http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=32188&partId=1&searchText=Bust+Oliver+Cromwell&page=2
A marble bust of Chesterfield from life, 58 cm in height, which was sold on the London market(4) is dated 1745. Now in the National Portrait Gallery(5) it corresponds with the British Museum plaster; it belonged to George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, until 1918 when it was sold at Christie's. It is likely to have passed into the Carnarvon's possession via Lady Evelyn Stanhope, the sister and heiress of the 7th Earl of Chesterfield, who married the 4th Earl of Carnarvon in 1861.
This bust is highly classicizing in style, an effect heightened by the complete lack of any drapery, although the incised pupils and turn of the head slightly to the left give the portrait a lifelike quality. Most of the artist's other portrait busts are of the same general form, but here the deep chest, which rests on a squared off support, enhances the sitter's serious and weighty air, although he was small in stature. Both this bust and Wilton's marble of 1757 (see registration no. 1777,0620.1) are essays in classicism. The sitter reveals his taste for antiquities in a letter to Dayrolles of 27 April 1750 (OS) published by Dr Maty(6) when he asks Dayrolles to act for him at a forthcoming sale: 'Count Obdam's sale, I suppose, draws near, at which, pray, buy me such bustoes and vases as you shall find are universally allowed to be both antique and fine, at such rates as you shall think reasonable; in the whole, you may go as far as two hundred pounds, if the objects are curious and worth it.' A further letter of 25 May(7) lists four lots and two other pieces in which he is particularly interested.
It seems likely that the multiplicity of versions of this bust owe their existence to the sitter's vanity, although in a letter to Madame du Boccage of 14 June 1750 (OS)(12) he writes:
'What an honour it would be for me, if my bust deserved the place you offer it! But how mortifying, should you be called upon to prove the qualifications of the new comer! Believe me, madam, let us both keep out of the scrape, and remain on the safe side. I will send you two busts, which not only deserve, but claim a place in your garden, in consequence of the reception they have met with in your closet, I mean Milton and Pope. There they will not be afraid of company, be it ever so good; besides they have already got their vouchers and their patents, countersigned by your own hand. I shall send them as soon as they are done.'
'You talk to me, madam, of my bust; yes, make it speak as you have made the four others speak,(14) which I sent you, and it shall sail for Dieppe by the first fair wind. Upon such a recommendation, I should be sure of meeting with a gracious reception from those illustrious dead, except Pope, who unfortunately has been too well acquainted with me to be imposed upon; though perhaps as a friend he would not betray me . . .'.
(1) M. Maty, The Miscellaneous Works of the Late Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, consisting of letters to his friends never before printed and various other articles to which are prefixed memoirs of his life to illustrate the civil, literary and political history of his time, 3 vols, Dublin, 1777.
(2) D. Bindman and M. Baker, Roubiliac and the Eighteenth-century Monument: Sculpture as Theatre, New Haven and London, 1995, pp. 64-5.
(3) T. Murdoch, 'Louis François Roubiliac and his Huguenot connections', Proceedings of the Huguenot Society, vol. XXIV, no. 1, 1983, pp. 26-45, p. 39. Malcolm Baker in discussion with the writer in February 1998 stated that this view is no longer current.
(4) Christie's, European Sculpture and Works of Art, 3 April 1985, lot 70.
(5) National Portrait Gallery, inv. 5829, see Illustrated Report and List of Acquisitions 1985-6, p. 12, illus. inside front cover.
(6) Maty, Miscellaneous Works, III, p. 219.
(7) Ibid., p. 221.
(8) See registration nos 1762,0528.9-10 (Milton and Pope).
(9) Bindman and Baker, 1995, p. 364, lot 9, plaster; lot 75, terracotta in second day's sale, 13 May 1762; lot 83, terracotta, 14 May 1762; lot 20, plaster, 15 May 1762.
(10) Inv. no. A. 17-1959; see Whinney, 1971, pp. 86-8, illus.
(11) Christie's, Important European Sculpture and Works of Art, 16 April 1991, lot 45. All three bronzes are discussed in Baker, 1996, p. 153; the bronze now in a private collection is illus. p. 15a, fig. 10. It is no doubt the same object as was sold at Sotheby's European Sculpture and Works of Art, 16 December 1998, lot 150.
(12) Maty, Miscellaneous Works, III, Letter LXXXV.
(13) Ibid., Letter XCIV.
(14) We can infer from a letter from Chesterfield to Madame du Boccage of 20 May 1751 (OS) (Maty, Miscellaneous Works, Letter XCIII) that he sent busts of Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden and Pope in return for her present of letters of La Rochefoucault, Madame de Lafayette and Madame de Coulanges, although the word busts is not actually used.
Antiquary and natural philosopher; born in London, Queen Street, Lincoln Inn's Fields, studied firstly at the University of Saumur and later from 1706 at Clare Hall, Cambridge. Elected member of the Royal Society, named Vice-President of this institute in 1723 and became President (after Hans Sloane) from 1741 to 1753. President of the Society of Antiquarie in 1749-50. Travelled to Italy from 1733-5 and then to France. He had an extensive collection of books, paintings, engraved gems and coins as well as many prints and a few drawings.
The marble version of this bust is at Wilton House, Wilton, Wiltshire.
This plaster bust is related to the marble made for the 9th Earl of Pembroke and dated 1749, for which there is a receipt for £35 at Wilton.(4) It was much admired by George Vertue before it went to Wilton, as well as by other writers in the 1760s.(5) Unlike the marble, the eyes are incised, a feature presumably cast from the lost terracotta. Malcolm Baker(6) believes that the Museum bust may perhaps be an 'original plaster', cast using a 'waste-mould' technique from the original clay which was lost in the process. A 'cast' of the bust is recorded 'at the Royal Society's Rooms' by Mrs Esdaile.(7)
The sitter is depicted in a bonnet and, like other contemporaries of the sculptor, is without wig. The soft folds of his bonnet and open shirt and the long fur collar of his gown betray once more Roubiliac's skill in rendering textiles and fur. The form of the body does not differ greatly from that of Richard Bentleywhilst the fur-lined robe and the bonnet are both remarkably similar to those in the marble portrait by Roubiliac of Dean Swift in Trinity College, Dublin.(8) In 1928 Mrs Esdaile wrote, 'Of the plaster model of Martin Folkes it is enough to say that it is perhaps the finest in the Museum.'(9) It is doubtful that posterity would quibble with her judgement. She particularly remarked on the breadth and dignity of Roubiliac's undress portraits (i.e. those in which the sitter did not wear a wig, hat or other costume fitting to his rank) and his ability to face physical ugliness and wrest from it a powerful portrait.(10) Whinney(11) drew attention to 'the heavy features, the obstinate mouth, firmly closed with protruding under-lip', and considered it 'a most impressive character study'. The plaster was even more revealing, in her opinion, of the 'alert intelligence' in the sitter's face. It is impossible not to believe, as she did, that the portrait was not done from life, such is its power.
For portraits of Folkes, see Kerslake, 1977, pp. 76-8. A drawing on vellum by Jonathan Richardson inscribed on the back with the sitter's name and dated 8 December 1735 is in the British Museum.(see above )(12) A medallic portrait of Folkes was struck by Jacques Antoine Dassier in 1740;(13) a medal attributed to Ottone Hamerani, probably struck in Rome in 1738,(14) bears a sphinx, a sun and the pyramid tomb of Caius Cestus, and is said(15) to suggest a strong connection with Folkes' associate membership of the Egyptian Club, founded by gentlemen who had visited Egypt, even though Folkes himself never ventured that far.
(1) See Andrew Moore, 'Norfolk and the Grand Tour', Norfolk Museums Service, 1985, no. 13.
(2) D. Bindman and M. Baker, Roubiliac and the Eighteenth-century Monument: Sculpture as Theatre, New Haven and London, 1995, p. 375, n. 12 and cat. 22.
(3) Ibid, and cat. 39; John Physick considers that the Lucretia Betenson monument is more likely to be by Nicholas Read.
(4) See M. I. Webb, 'Roubiliac busts at Wilton', Country Life, 19 April 1956, p. 804, illus. The payment appears in Roubiliac's bank account on 16 November 1749. It seems unlikely that this was the full amount charged for the bust. The marble was exhibited in 'Rococo Art and Design in Hogarth's England', Victoria and Albert Museum, May-September, 1984, no. S11, still in the possession of the Earl of Pembroke, also illus. Whinney, 1988, p. 217, fig. 152 and Bindman and Baker, 1995, pp. 64-5.
(5) See Esdaile, 1928, pp.90-91. Vertue in August 1749 wrote that it was 'a most real likeness of him - his features strong and musculous, with a Natural and Just air of likeness - as much as any work of that kind ever seen - equal to any present or former ages' (quoted Webb, 1956, p. 804).
(6) Baker discusses Roubiliac's techniques in 'Roubiliac's models and eighteenth-century sculptors' working practices', in P.Volk (ed.), Entwurf und Ausführung in der europäischen Barockplastik, Munich, 1986, pp. 59-83; 'Terracotta and plaster multiples in eighteenth and early nineteenth century France', in A. Radcliffe, M. Baker, M. Mack Gerard, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. Renaissance and later sculpture, London, 1992, pp. 36-41; and 'From model to marble', in Bindman and Baker, 1995, pp. 246-55.
(7) Esdaile, 1922, XIII, p. 450.
(8) Dawson is grateful to Tessa Murdoch for the use of a photograph of the marble of Swift.
(9) Esdaile, 1928, p. 105.
(10) Ibid., p. 111.
(11) Whinney, 1988, pp. 217-18.
(12) Registration no. P&D 1902,0822.15.
(13) British Museum, registration no. C&M M.8450, purchased from Edward Hawkins, Medallic Illustrations, II, pp. 558-9, no. 185; for contemporary sources see Vertue Note Books, vol. III, Walpole Society, XXII, 1933-4, pp. 101-2, 104. A bronze example in the Victoria and Albert Museum is discussed in Rococo, 1984, S18.
(14) There are three examples of it in the Museum: a) silver, registration no. C&M M.8468; b) registration no. C&M M.8466; c) bronze, registration no. C&M M.8467. Dawson is grateful to her colleague Luke Syson for this information, and for information on medals of Folkes in general.
(15) Moore, 'Norfolk and the Grand Tour', p. 92. Moore suggested a date of 1742 for the Hamerani medal, but see Hawkins, Medallic Illustrations, II, p. 571, no. 206 and J. Montagu, Gold, Silver and Bronze: metal sculpture of the Roman Baroque, New Haven and London, 1996, p. 89, figs 137-8.
Plaster either lot 11, 2nd day or lot 13, 3rd day.
George Edwardes remarked on the physical resemblance of the bust to the sitter.(6) It seems possible that Roubiliac used as his source a portrait of Mead by Arthur Pond, engraved by Pond, which Mead himself disliked. This appears to correspond with two portraits, one of about 1739, the other dated 1743, both showing him without wig.(7) The main difference between the Roubiliac bust and the Pond portraits is that the sculptor has substituted a classical style drapery for the loose shirt and dark coat, trimmed with gold embroidery in the 1743 version.
A pencil drawing in the Harris Museum, Preston, inscribed Roubiliac and Dr. Mead/508 and Dr. Mead on the mount at the left (see Dawson 1999, p. 142, fig. 38), shows the sitter in the same drapery, without wig, on a shaped pedestal. The drawing is attributed to Nollekens, and, as Malcolm Baker has stated, it was 'done either in Roubiliac's studio or, most likely, at the time of the [sculptor's] sale'.(8)
Mead was also portrayed by the painters Allan Ramsay(9) and Jonathan Richardson,(10) as well as in wax and ivory by the carver Silvanus Bevan (1691-1765)(11) and in jasper by Josiah Wedgwood around 1778-9.(12)
At least two coatings have been applied to the sandy yellowish-colour plaster, which is visible under the truncation at the left where the coating has been lost.
The sitter is shown in classical guise, his head turned slightly to proper left. Like other contemporaries of the sculptor, Mead is shown without wig. He is bald except for scanty hair at the sides, which is longer at the back. His robe leaves his neck and part of his chest bare, and is draped in folds over his left shoulder. The pupils of the small eyes are lightly indicated, and the lids shown. The modelling of the fleshy face and rather pendulous chin, as well as numerous wrinkles around the eyes, is meticulous, but it is the mouth which is most expressive, conjuring up both the sitter's determination and his humour.
(1) Mead's pictures were sold at Langford's, 20-22 March 1754; further sales took place on 7 April, 7 May and 15 December 1754.
(2) M. Baker, 'The portrait sculpture', in D. McKitterick (ed.), The Making of the Wren Library, Cambridge, 1995, p. 114, n. 20.
(3) Described and discussed by I. Roscoe, 'Peter Scheemakers', Walpole Society, vol. 61, 1999, pp. 233-4.
(4) Matthew Maty, Authentic Memoirs of the Life of R. Mead, London, 1755.
(5) Esdaile, 1928, p. 112 (no source given).
(6) Esdaile, 1928, p. 111-12, and see G. Wolstenholme (ed.) and D. Piper, The Royal College of Physicians of London Portraits, London, 1964, p. 290, no. 6 (of six portraits of Mead).
(7) Wolstenholme (ed.) and Piper, Royal College, pp. 284-7, nos 2 and 3.
(8) M. Baker, 'The making of portrait busts in the mid-eighteenth century: Roubiliac, Scheemakers and Trinity College, Dublin', Burlington Magazine, vol. CXXXVII, no. 1113, December 1995, p. 824.
(9) Portrait in Foundling Hospital, London, signed and dated 1747, and a possible studio copy in the National Portrait Gallery, Kerslake, 1977, p. 184.
(10) Ibid., pp. 183-4. There is a drawing in the British Museum by the same artist related to the oil portrait in the National Portrait Gallery.
(11) The wax and the ivory are in the Dept of Medieval and Later Antiquities, British Museum, reg. nos MLA 1957,1206.1 and 1957,1207.1; for a discussion of these portraits see H. Tait, 'Wedgwood, Flaxman and an English eighteenth-century portrait carver, Silvanus Bevan', Proc. Wedg. Soc, III, 1959, pp. 126-32.
(12) R.Reilly and G. Savage, Wedgwood: the portrait medallions, London, 1973, pp. 236-7.
Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744).
Francis Willoughby of Middleton Hall, Warwickshire, was admitted Bachelor of Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1656, and Master of Arts in 1659. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1663 after accompanying his tutor John Ray (see registration no. 1762,0528.14) on a botanical journey through the Midlands and North Wales the previous year. He travelled with Ray and other companions to Europe in 1663-6, ending his tour alone with a visit to Spain. His 'Account of Francis Willoughby Esq., his voyage through a great part of Spain' was published in 1673; 'Ornithologiae libri tres' and 'De Historia Piscium' appeared in 1676 and 1686 respectively, all edited, as were other works by him, by John Ray.
This fine terracotta, which was much admired by Mrs Esdaile, is the model for a marble in the Wren Library at Trinity College, Cambridge. Signed and dated 1751, this was the gift of Edmund Garforth. Garforth, an undergraduate at Trinity from 1720 and Fellow of the college from 1726, who then moved to a living in York, married Elizabeth Willoughby, a descendant of the naturalist, in 1750.(3) In general type the bust is similar to that of Barrow (registration no. 1762,0528.16). The slight turn of the head to the proper right is typical of Roubiliac; the parted lips emphasize the realism of the portrait, in which the sitter is shown with his own, rather straggly, hair. The high collar and long hair hide the join of the head, which is hollow, to the body. Like the bust of John Ray (registration no. 1762,0528.14), this bust retains some traces of a grey surface coating, perhaps originally disguising the barely distinguishable brushmarks in the terracotta.
This information and photographs from the British Museum website -