Monday, 23 October 2017

Marble bust of George II by Rysbrack at the Sotheby's Howard Hodgkin Sale.

A Weathered and Repolished Marble Bust 
of George II (1683 - 1760).
by Michael Rysbrack. 
at the Sotheby's Howard Hodgkin Sale.
Lot 193, Tuesday 24 October 2017.

No established provenance.

Sotheby's not unreasonably, suggest in their catalogue that it could originally have been paired with the bust of Queen Caroline now in the Wallace Collection.(see photograph below and my next post).

There are two types of the Rysbrack busts of George II.

A younger type as in the Royal Collection version at Kensington Palace and the Sotheby's Hodgkin bust - the rerracotta in the Royal Collection being the prototype for these two busts.

The older version represented by the unsigned Windsor Castle, the Christchurch and the Victoria and Albert Museum busts, the terracotta of Durham University being a prototype for these busts.

George II.
 signed M: RYSBRACK F
White Statuary Marble.
Sotheby's say circa 1739.
Height 63 cms.

With the badge of the order of the garter on his left breast and the Great George on a ribbon around his neck

Authors photograph.


Sotheby's Condition Report.

The marble is a very finely carved autograph portrait bust by Rysbrack. There is dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. The surface is consistent with the marble having been outdoors for a period of time. There is general wear to the surface due to weathering, for example to the lesser George pendant and the inscription on the garter star. The surface is dry in areas, in particular at the back. Parts of the surface, in particular the sash and the face, have been repolished. There is possible restoration and paint residue to under the nose. The tip of the laurel above the forehead is reattached. There are a few small losses and chips to the laurels. 

There are small naturally occurring inclusions to the marble, in particular at the proper left side of the face and the sash on the proper left side. 

There are residues of blue-green paint including to the back of the bust. There is dirt, particularly to the crevices, and dark dirt marks particularly at the back and behind the shoulders. 

The marble would benefit from a professional cleaning and waxing. There are a few small losses including to the edges of the knot at the neck and to the dragon's wing on the pendant. There are a few small chips, including to the sash. There is veining to the marble consistent with the material. There is a small chip to the edge of the proper right shoulder.


My opinion - for what its worth.

This bust has suffered a great deal from being outside and much of the surface where it has been exposed has sugared probably by acids in the atmosphere. This is very evident in the laurel leaves and curls of the hair. At some time in its past it has been restored by polishing the sugared surface particularly on the face and front of the bust. In doing so this has removed the majority, if not all of the original surface and thus the original intentions of the sculptor.

It is my opinion that any further intervention could only worsen the state of the already compromised surface.

Whilst historically interesting it can no longer be described as an original work of art. It should be compared with the other versions which are in much better condition - the photographs of the Christ Church marble bust, the two Royal Collection busts and the Victoria and Albert marble bust by Rysbrack (pictured below) show clearly what this bust must have looked like originally.

My advice to any potential purchaser - think very carefully before bidding tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds for a bust whose distressed and weathered surface has been altered from the original and therefore it is a work where the sculptors intentions have been severely compromised!

Photographs from the Sotheby's website
see -

Marble Bust of Queen Caroline by Michael Rysbrack
Wallace Collection.

Sotheby's suggest that the Hodgkin bust of George II could be the pair to it.
see below for a terracotta version

Photograph taken in very poor light by the Author.


George II.
Michael Rysbrack
 in the Christchurch Gallery, St Aldates, Oxford.

This bust was placed over the hall chimney-piece when the Hall was repaired and adorned under the direction of Dean Gregory in about 1752 and removed to Christchurch Library when the new Chimney-pieces were built before 1804 - see Oxford Almanack, Christ Church Hall drawn by JMW Turner and engraved with variations in 1807.

All photographs below by the author.

I am very grateful to Jacqueline Thalman curator of the Christ Church Gallery for allowing me to visit and to take photographs for this blog of the busts at the Gallery.

I am also very grateful for the assistance of Dana Josephson and for suggesting that I investigate and record the various busts in the Bodleian Library and at Christ Church and for enabling me to photograph this and the other busts.


George II
Michael Rysbrack
Victoria and Albert Museum.

George II
Michael Rysbrack
Signed at the back with the initials MR and dated 1760
Height 89 cms.
Victoria and Albert Museum

Photographed by the author.

Photographs by the author.


George II
Michael Rysbrack
Marble Bust.
c. 1738/9.

Height 69.8 cms.
Royal Collection.
Located room 5 Kensington Palace.

This is one of a pair of portrait busts made by the Flemish sculptor working in England, John Michael Rysbrack. They were ordered for Queen Caroline, King George II’s consort and were commissioned for the decoration of the new library at St James's Palace, designed by the English architect William Kent. 

George Vertue, in his diaries, provides valuable information on the origin of these two marble portrait busts. 

In 1738 he noted that ‘the KING … sat to [Rysbrack] at Kensington twice. to have his picture modelled in Clay. the likeness much approvd on – and with a good Air. – also a Moddel of the Queen vastly like. Tho’ not done from the life’. The resulting terracotta models, which are signed and dated 1738, can now be seen at Kensington Palace (RCIN 1411-1412). 

In 1739 Vertue recorded that ‘two Marble Bustos the one of his present Majesty from a Model done from the life by MrRysbrack – and another busto of the lat Majesty Q. Caroline both were erected in the New Library at St. James, Green Park’.

Text from the Royal Collection website

Photographs from the Royal Collection website see -


George II
Studio of Michael Rysbrack
Marble Bust

Currently located in St Georges Hall Windsor Castle
Royal Collection

Presented in June 1817 to the Prince Regent by Mrs Lloyd
Originally located on the Grand Staircase at Carlton House


George II
Michael Rysbrack
Terracotta Bust
signed and dated 1738.

Height 57.6 cms
Royal Collection.

Currently in the Presence Chamber Kensington Palace. along with its pair of Queen Caroline

A terracotta bust of George II, facing half to the left, with a long curled wig and a laurel wreath upon his head, wearing a cuirass, with lion's mask shoulders, the Great George, a Garter star on his left breast, and a high stock around his neck. 

This is one of a pair of portrait busts made by the Flemish sculptor working in England, John Michael Rysbrack. They were ordered for Queen Caroline, King George II’s consort and were commissioned for the decoration of her new library at St James's Palace which had been designed by the English architect William Kent. 

This is the terracotta model for the final marble version which is also in the Royal Collection (RCIN 31322). Rysbrack portrays George II as a powerful classical hero and also wearing a medallion of the order of the Garter, the highest English insignia, established in the fourteenth century. 

The second bust in the pair portrays Queen Caroline (RCIN 1411 and 1739) and it is thought to have stood above the library’s door also at St James’s Palace.

Provenance -

Bought by Queen Mary at the dispersal of Lord Hatherton's collection of Rysbrack terracottas by Spink in 1932. They were bought by his ancestor, Sir Edward Littleton, for Teddesley Hall.

This text above from The Royal Collection website see -

Photograph from the estimable Royal Collection website -

Queen Caroline (1683 - 1737).
Signed and dated 1739.

Queen Caroline was born on 1/11 March 1683, under the name of Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach. Her native principality may have been one of the smallest of the Empire, but her family, the House of Hohenzollern, was one of Germany’s most ancient and ambitious. Caroline’s early life was obscured by the premature death of her parents, John Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1654-1686) and Eleonore of Sachsen-Eisenach (1662-1696), as well as her step-father, George IV, Elector of Saxony (1668-1694). 

From the age of thirteen, the orphan princess was raised in Berlin, at the court of Sophie Charlotte of Brandenburg, sister of George I. Caroline benefited greatly from the cultivated and intellectual circle of Sophie Charlotte and her mother, the Electress Sophia. The combination of wit and beauty (and the negligible political weight of Ansbach), made Caroline one of the most sought after princesses on the European marriage market. Owing to her deep Protestant faith, she even declined the proposal of the most eligible yet Catholic candidate, future Emperor Charles VI. This remarkable rejection would later be used in Britain to publicise the Queen’s unfailing Protestantism. 

Caroline first met the then Electoral Prince George Augustus of Hanover in June 1705, when he visited Ansbach incognito. George almost immediately sought his father’s approval for the match, which he received soon afterwards. George and Caroline’s relationship appears to have been one of affection and interdependency. Although her influence over the King triggered satire and mockery, he continuously relied on her advice and judgement. The Queen endured the presence of her husband’s mistresses with serene tolerance. On her death bed she thoughtfully advised him to remarry. The King’s promise that he would limit himself to mistresses was met by the Queen’s famous reply: ‘Ah mon Dieu! Cela n’empĂȘche pas!’ A woman of unusual erudition, Queen Caroline was qualified by some of her contemporaries as ‘one of the most learned princesses in Europe.’ Keen to emphasise her affiliation to the British Monarchy in her patronage, the Queen even changed her name from Wilhelmina (as she was known in Germany) to Caroline in order to simplify the pronunciation for her English-speaking subjects. George Vertue provides valuable information on the origin of this bust and another of George II (RCIN 31322). In 1738 he noted that ‘the KING … sat to [Rysbrack] at Kensington twice. to have his picture modelled in Clay. the likeness much approvd on – and with a good Air. – also a Moddel of the Queen vastly like. Tho’ not done from the life’. The resulting terracotta models, which are signed and dated 1738, can now be seen at Kensington Palace (RCIN 1411-1412). In 1739 Vertue recorded that ‘two Marble Bustos the one of his present Majesty from a Model done from the life by MrRysbrack – and another busto of the lat Majesty Q. Caroline both were erected in the New Library at St. James, Green Park’. 

The busts probably stood in niches over the fireplaces at either end of the double-cube interior, while Rysbrack’s terracotta kings and queens rested on high brackets along the side walls. The two portraits, though properly a pair, are yet distinguished both by the fact that one was made posthumously and the other ‘from the life’, and by the costumes. The King wears the laurels of victory and is dressed in armour, albeit markedly old-fashioned in style. The Queen by contrast wears robes of state, with strings of pearls threaded through her hair and a high, jewelled diadem notable for its resemblance to those habitually portrayed on the goddess Juno. 

The likeness depends in almost every detail on her portrait in profile by the painter Joseph Highmore (RCIN 406035) which must have been placed at the sculptor’s disposal. A further terracotta version of Queen Caroline’s bust (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum) belonged to her daughter Anne, Princess Royal, and was recorded at the Stadholder’s court in Leeuwarden in 1764. 

Text adapted from The First Georgians: Art and Monarchy 1714 - 1760, London, 2014

Text above from Royal Collection website see

In 1735, Queen Caroline of Ansbach, King George II’s consort, commissioned John Michael Rysbrack, to create a series of busts of English sovereigns, of ‘all Kings of England from William the Conqueror’, for her new library at St James’s Palace, designed by William Kent. Rysbrack only produced terracotta busts of 11 Tudor and Plantagenet monarchs. Queen Caroline's early death in October 1737 prompted her husband, George II, to abandon the project.

The Bustos in Marble of all the Kings of England from William the Conqueror, which was reported in The Gentleman's Magazine, 30th June 1735.

'Her majesty has ordered Mr Risbrack to make the bustos in Marble of all the Kings of England from William the Conqueror in order to be placed in her new building in the gardens at Richmond'.

Vertue reports - In June 1735 Queen Caroline 'made a visit to Mr Rysbrake to see his works and especially the equestrian statue of K.William in brass that is to be set up in Bristol' and goes on 'also the busts of Marble of Kings and Queens done lately by him to adorn some palace. upon her seeing K. James I face she turned about and said si il me semble a une boureau I wont have that done, she said, one may guess she forgot from whence her succession came and also, lyes or what had been ingrafted or told her about that king.

Of the eleven terracotta busts that Rysbrack completed for Queen Caroline’s library at St James’s Palace only three survive: Edward the Black Prince, Edward VI, and Queen Elizabeth I . (The others were destroyed, and a fourth - the bust of Elizabeth of York, partially damaged, in 1906 when the shelf on which they stood collapsed. The busts had been moved to the Orangery at Windsor Castle in 1825 when Queen Caroline’s library at St James’s Palace in Westminster was demolished.

see my previous post -

and the following posts


George II.
by Michael Rysbrack
Durham University.

George II
Michael Rysbrack
Signed and dated Mich. Rysbrack 1758.
Durham University.

I am very grateful for the photographs below which were provided by Gemma Lewis, Deputy Curator (Castle and Archeology), University Library Durham.

Reproduced by permission of Durham University.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Charles II - Busts

Charles II - (1630 - 85).
Attrib. to Edward Pearce (1630 - 95).

Terracotta Bust
70 x 56 x 32 cms
c 1670 - 80)
Royal Collection

Restored in 1938 when the bronze painted finish was removed


Charles II
Attrib. John Bushnell
Seaton Delaval Hall.
formerly at Melton Constable
National Trust


Charles II
Attrib John Bushnell
78.5 cms
Given to the Fitzwilliam in 1948.
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Photographs taken by the author. 20 August 2015.

This bust was bought in the early 1920's from the owners of the Mill Hill Estate, where it had been since 1877 in the possession of Mr Serjeant Cox, who had purchased it with the furniture, fittings, plate, and other materials of the demolished Serjeant's Inn, Chancery Lane, and re-erected the hall stained glass and all, at his home at Mill Hill. Sir Bruce surmised that the bust may have originally belonged to Francis North, 1st Baron Guildford (1637-1685), Lord Chancellor, who was highly esteemed by Charles II, and who, as Lord Keeper, erected the Chancery Lane Hall of Serjeants Inn, 1669-1677.

Fascinating engraving of the polymath Martin Folkes 
by Jacob Folkema, 1746
98 x 143 mm.
from Portraits des Hommes Illustres de Dannemark Part 6 


Excerpt above from

Ex bibliotheca Hugh Frederick Hornby. Catalogue of the art library bequeathed by Hugh Frederick Hornby, esq., of Liverpool, to the Free public library of the city of Liverpool

see last paragraph


Medallion of Martin Folkes by Jaques Dassier 1740.

Images from website of Ben Weiss
all rights reserved.


For more on the Dassier Medallion of Martin Folkes 

see -


Medallion struck in Rome dated 1742
38mm diam with the pyramid of Caius Sestius in Rome

For much more on the portraits of Martin Folkes see my blog entry


Bust of Charles II
John Dwight 
Fulham Pottery 
Hand modelled
Saly Glazed Stoneware
Height18.2 cms
c. 1673 -75.

Images Victoria and Albert Museum

see -


Another version of the bust of Charles II
 by John Dwight
Fulham Pottery Hand modelled
Salt Glaze Stoneware
19.5 cms approx

Image Victoria and Albert Museum

for further information see my blog entry -


Charles II
Lead Bust
Ham House


Statue of Charles II
Grinling Gibbons

 Royal Collection

Charles II
Chelsea Hospital


King James II, by Unknown artist, 1685-1688 - NPG 5869 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

James II (1633 - 1701)
Here attrib. to Bushnell
803 mm tall
National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 1986