Saturday, 5 January 2019

Bust of Roubiliac or not

The Marble Bust of Louis Francois Roubiliac (1695 - 1762).
Sculpted by Joseph Wilton
or not?

A few notes and images.

Comparison of the bust with the Garrick Club Soldi Portrait 


Comparison of the bust with the Dulwich Soldi portrait.


Comparison of the bust with the Carpentier Portrait


Comparison of the bust with the Yale Vispre Portrait


Comparison of the bust with the Lens Portrait.


Are these portraits the same as the man depicted in the bust?

I know from past experience that this is dangerous territory.
but currently I think not.

The nose is a completely different shape


The Putative Marble Bust of Roubiliac in the National Portrait Gallery.
by Joseph Wilton

A 'Marble Busto' by Roubiliac, exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1760 (86) and 'A Bust' exhibited in 1761 previously associated by Mrs Esdaile with the self-portrait, have now been identified from contemporary sources as Dr Frewin and Lord Ligonier.

In 1761 Roubiliac exhibited a bust of Wilton and Wilton exhibited 'A Bust of Mr. Roubiliac' and 'Ditto in marble of Oliver Cromwell' 

It is possible that the bust above is that exhibited in 1761 or, since 'marble' is specified only for Cromwell, more than likely a version of it. ‘Mr. Roubilliac by Mr. Wilton', [7]lot 8 under 'BUSTS in Plaister', 2nd day of the Roubiliac sale, 13 May 1762, may well be the plaster bust exhibited the previous year. 

As the Wilton Plaster bust of Roubiliac was owned by Roubiliac, it may have been mistaken for a self-portrait.

Lot 8, sold on the second day of the Roubiliac Sale was a plaster bust of Roubiliac by Wilton (was this the RA bust? Where is it now?).

It would seem that there is no documentary evidence of a marble bust of Roubiliac by Wilton ever having existed.

I have tried to make comparisons between the known portraits of Roubiliac and the NPG bust but frankly ( and I know this is subjective) I cannot see the resemblance.

One very annoying factor in all this is the number of portrait busts that have gone missing -  two dimensional works of art seem to have been less subject to the vagaries of fashion and certainly not put out in the garden.


The Putative bust of Roubiliac
ascribed to Joseph Wilton
in the National Portrait Gallery.
Photographs by the author

This extract below from the NPG website.

The following text is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977 (now out of print).

Once called Voltaire and then Folkes, [1] identification of NPG 2145, though not entirely conclusive, rests on comparison with portraits of known authenticity and the supposed family likeness noted by Dominic Colnaghi after he had acquired the bust. 

When the sculptor's granddaughter visited his premises soon after, she was apparently received with the words: 'There is no need to ask what you have come about, Madam; the likeness is so unmistakable.' [2] The bust was then sold, as announced in The Athenaeum of 3 January 1852, to Francis Roubiliac Conder, great-grandson of the sitter. 

When last at Sotheby's in 1926, it was still described as a self-portrait and remained, after acquisition by the NPG, so attributed until now.

Although it is rare for a sculptor to take a bust of himself, Mrs Esdaile accepts the family tradition that Roubiliac executed a self-portrait which was exhibited anonymously and also sold anonymously. [3] 

While there were several items in the sculptor's posthumous sale called, 'mask of Mr. Roubiliac's', none is specifically described as a self-portrait. On the other hand, a self-portrait in oils is mentioned by Nollekens in the second sale, 11 June 1762. [4] 

The care-worn features shown in NPG 2145, reminiscent of the oil by Soldi of 1751, accord well with the concept of a late date, and the dress, natural hair and unbuttoned shirt, with the portrayal of an artist.

A 'Marble Busto' by Roubiliac, exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1760 (86) and 'A Bust' exhibited in 1761 (153) previously associated by Mrs Esdaile with the self-portrait, have now been identified from contemporary sources as Dr Frewin and Lord Ligonier. [5] 

In 1761 Roubiliac also exhibited a bust of Wilton (154) and Wilton exhibited 'A Bust of Mr. Roubiliac' (167) and 'Ditto in marble of Oliver Cromwell' (168). 

Now that Joseph Wilton is better known, it could well be that NPG 2145 is a particularly good example of his work, [6] perhaps the bust exhibited in 1761 or, since 'marble' is specified only for Cromwell, more probably a version of it. ‘Mr. Roubilliac by Mr. Wilton', [7]lot 8 under 'BUSTS in Plaister', 2nd day of the Roubiliac sale, 13 May 1762, may well be the plaster exhibited the previous year. As the Wilton bust was owned by Roubiliac, it may have been mistaken for a self-portrait.

Condition: slight cracks at the back of the shoulder and side of the neck, left.

Collections:presented, 1927, by the National Art-Collection Fund; from the James Thomson collection at Sotheby's, 18 July 1851, lot 162, as Voltaire, bought Colnaghi's, from whom purchased by the sitter's great-grandson Francis Roubiliac Conder; sold by the latter's great-nephew Dr A.F.R. Conder, [8] Sotheby's, 3 December 1926, bought Shilliter.

A detailed study appears in the biography by Mrs Esdaile. The first certain datable portrait is one noted by Vertue in November, 1751, ‘lately Mr Rubilliac the Statuary, his picture painted by Mr Soldi' [10] but an enamel attributed to Lens who died 1740, in the collection, 1928, of Dr Bellamy Gardner, is surely earlier. 

A signed version of the portrait by Soldi in which the sitter is at work on the figure of Charity for the Montagu tomb in Warkton Church, was acquired, 1914, by Dulwich College [11] from C. Fairfax Murray. 

The version signed and dated 1757/8 owned by the Garrick Club (601) showing the sculptor working on a bust of Garrick [12] is evidently the portrait, anonymous property, sketched by Scharf at Christie's, 3 March 1883, lot 84. [13] A pastel by an unknown artist, at Christie's, 20 March 1953, lot 53, attributed by the sitter's great-grandson to Cotes but surely too powerful for this artist, may be the pastel exhibited by Vispré at the Society of Artists in 1760 (63): 'Mr. Vispré. A celebrated painter in crayons, has two portraits: one of them the famous sculptor Roubiliac, the man himself alive, breathing and just going to speak; most admirable! and himself never cut in marble a better . . .'. [14]

The next dated work is the bust by Wilton exhibited in 1761, discussed under NPG 2145, and the oil by Carpentiers (NPG 303) probably exhibited in the same year. A self-portrait, perhaps the 'Portrait in oil, his first attempt', also exhibited in 1761 (64), [15]was last heard of when reported by Horace Walpole in the possession of Mr Scott of Crown Court: 'a sketch of Roubiliac's head in oil by himself, which he painted a little before his death'. [16] A lost portrait by Hudson is implied by lot 6, 2nd day of his sale, Christie's, 25 and 26 February 1785: 'Mr. Hudson. Portraits of Roubiliac and Faber.' [17]


1. First described as Voltaire in the manuscript catalogue, Sotheby's, 18 July 1851, lot 162; the Athenaeum, 19 and 26 July 1851 named it as Folkes, but Colnaghi, the purchaser at Sotheby's, confirmed that he had bought it as a self-portrait.

2. Esdaile, p.192.

3. Ibid, p.191.

4. Nollekens and His Times . . . J.T. Smith, ed. W. Whitten, 1920, II, p.37; summary in Esdaile, pp.229-30; no complete catalogue known.

5. Esdaile letter, The Times, 22 December 1926, and W.T. Whitley, unpublished letters 29 December 1926 and 7 January 1927, NPG archives.

6. T.W.I. Hodgkinson, verbal.

7. Esdaile, p.221.

8. Correspondence in 1968, NPG archives, with his descendant Anthony Lousada for whom a bronze of the bust was then made.

9. Neale, VIII, no.36 (98).

10. Vertue, III, p.159.

11. Exh. ‘Italian Art and Britain', RA, 1960 (155). In 1859 owned by J. Matthews, Birmingham, by whom it had been bought 'some 12 or 14 years ago from white', SSB, LIV, p.105 and Matthews’ letter, 11 August, 1859, NPG archives; Esdaile p.190 and note.

12. Same type as bust of Garrick attributed to Roubiliac (NPG 707A), Adams, 1936, p.184 (601).

13. SSB, 105, p.49A. For the earlier history of this or the Dulwich version, see Connoisseur,vol.186, 1974, p.181.

14. Imperial Magazine, or Complete Monthly Intelligensia,1760, p.246; compare with the Vispre of Mde. Roubiliac, Esdaile, pl.xlv.

15. Esdaile, p.148.

16. Anecdotes, III, p.759 and note 2, the portrait mistakenly equated with that of the sitter's father-in-law, lot 88 of the sale, 12 May 1762, cp Esdaile, p.221.

17. Esdaile, p.171.


Louis Francois Roubiliac.
Attributed recently to François-Xavier Vispré, active 1730–1790.
Formerly attributed to Francis Cotes RA, (1726–1770).
62.2 x 54.6 cms

They say c.1760?

The terra-cotta sculpture on which Roubiliac leans bears a resemblance to the head of the Britannia figure in the sculptor's 1753 monument to Admiral Sir Peter Warren in Westminster Abbey; it was also described as the head of Medusa by a nineteenth-century reviewer.

 The portrait has been attributed recently to François-Xavier Vispré, a fellow-Huguenot and close friend and neighbour of Roubiliac. 

Although stylistic comparison with known works by Vispré has not been conclusive, circumstantial detail makes the attribution seem very likely. Vispré exhibited a pastel of Roubiliac at the Society of Artists in London in 1760, and this may have been ca. 6.

Yale Centre for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.


Louis Francois Roubiliac
Andrea Soldi.
97.5 x 83 cm
Oil on canvas
Inscribed A. Soldi / Pinx. Ao. 1751.

One of the two versions known of this subject was (with the companion rysbrack) sold at London, Christie's, Sir Henry Gott sale, 24 Feb. 1810, lot 26; Brimingham, Matthews, 1854; Charles Fairfax Murray; Fairfax Murray Gift, 1911.
Fairfax Murray Gift, 1911

Dulwich Picture Gallery.

A Florentine, Andrea Soldi (c.1703-1771) came to England c.1736, when British portraiture still owed much to the tradition of artists like Sir Godfrey Kneller and Sir Peter Lely. The arrival of Soldi's European style led to a fresher and more informal portrayal of sitters, and Soldi work was in high demand amongst such important personages as the Dukes of Beaufort and Manchester. 

However, Soldi's success amongst such aristocratic patrons was soon to decline, when in 1744 his extravagant spending landed him in debtors' prison. His contemporary, George Vertue, recorded that Soldi "was willing to be thought a Count or Marquis, rather than an excellent painter - such idle vanitys has done him no good." 

 Painted in 1751, Soldi's portrait captures the sculptor at work on a preparatory model of a figure of Charity for a monument to the Duke of Montagu in the church of Warkton, Northamptonshire.


Lous Francos Roubiliac 
Andreas Soldi
Oil on Canvas

                Height: 112.4cm Width: 91.5cm

"Andrea Soldi / Pinxt ft / 1757 / 8" (grey paint b. r.)

Presented by Alderson Burrell Horne, 1909

Garrick Club.


Louis François Roubiliac

by Adrien Carpentiers (Carpentière, Charpentière)
oil on canvas, 
dated 1762
49 1/2 in. x 39 1/2 in. (1257 mm x 1003 mm)
Purchased, 1870.
NPG 303

National Portrait Gallery.

If the date was added later, this may be the 'half length of Mr Roubiliac' ex­hibited by Carpentiers at the Society of Artists 1761 (8). Roubiliac died 11 January 1762 and the quality of NPG 303 suggests it is unlikely to be a repetition.

The terracotta of his statue of Shakespeare commissioned by Garrick, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, is dated 1757; the marble passed on the death of Mrs Garrick to the British Museum. 

A version of NPG 303 without date or signature, owned in 1931 by Kenneth Sanderson, is apparently the source of the mezzotint by D. Martin engraved 1765, when in the possession of R. Alexander of Edinburgh (see the mezzotint below). 

Both show a large pair of callipers on the stand in addition to the two small tools shown in NPG 303. A number of scholars have taken this to be a repetition.

Condition: minor retouchings have discoloured, a possible pentiment on upper right forearm; surface cleaned, 1895.

Collections:bought 1870, from Mrs J. Noseda; presumably from the collection of General Durant of Tong Castle, Shropshire, who purchased the site, 1764, of an older castle there; listed, 1825, as in the possession of his son; [9] at Christie's sale, 1856, bought in; Tong Castle sale, Christie's, 20 April 1870, lot 42, bought Mrs J. Noseda.

Engraved: the type engraved by David Martin, 1765 (CS 6)(see below) and Thomas Chambars (O'D 2) (see below)

Louis Francois Roubiliac.
David Martin (1737 - 1797)
After Carpentier
32.7 x 25.4 cms

National Galleries of Scotland.

David Martin was born in Anstruther, Fife, the son of a schoolmaster. He trained under Allan Ramsay, working in his fellow Scot's London studio from about 1752. In 1755 he joined Ramsay in Rome and probably returned with him to London in 1757, working as his chief assistant, producing copies of state portraits. He settled in Edinburgh in the mid 1780s where his successful portrait practice functioned as a key link between his master, Ramsay, and Henry Raeburn. One of Martin's earliest independent works is a portrait of Benjamin Franklin (1767), which now hangs in The White House, Washington.

Info and image from:


Louis François Roubiliac.

by Thomas Chambers (Chambars), 
after Adrien Carpentiers (Carpentière, Charpentière).

line engraving, 
published 1762.

6 3/4 in. x 5 1/4 in. (172 mm x 134 mm) plate size; 
7 in. x 5 3/8 in. (177 mm x 138 mm) paper size.

National Portrait Gallery.



Here follows a tentative, alternative, identification of the bust.

This is dangerous territory and comparisons like this can be very subjective and even subject to wishful thinking!

The bust depicted in the stipple engraving below has disappeared.

Thomas Banks (1735 -1805).
Self Portrait Bust
Stipple engraving.
Drawn and engraved by John Conde
203 x 130 mm.

from  the "European Magazine", 
"Drawn and Engraved by I. Conde, from a Model of T. Banks / Publish'd as the Act directs Aug. 1. 1791 by J. Sewell, Cornhill".

National Galleries of Scotland


Comparison photograph of the stipple engraving of Thomas Banks with the marble bust.
I have cheated here by straightening the nose in the engraving a little with Photoshop.
But the shape of his nose is confirmed by other portraits (see below).

It is unfortunate that we cannot see more of the ear in the engraving, which might have helped to clinch the argument.
For me the shape of the double chin, lips and the philtrum and the creases beside his eyes looks fairly convincing.

The bust depicted in the European magazine has disappeared.

Julius Bryant tells me of plaster bust of Banks (also in an unknown location).

Comparison Photographs of a Drawing of Thomas Banks with the bust

Banks began his studies as an apprentice to William Barlow, a mason and woodcarver, and spent his evenings studying drawing. Following this Banks began life drawing classes at St Martin’s Lane Academy. 

It is thought that by 1769 he was employed as an assistant to the sculptor Richard Hayward. The same year he was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools where he went on to win the Rome scholarship, the first sculptor to do so. He travelled to the Italian capital in 1772, returning to England in 1779.

Comparison photographs of the bust and the Portrait of Banks by Northcote



European Magazine July 1790.


For more on Banks see -
Apollo 2005 Article by Julius Bryant.


Just in case anyone thinks I was being disingenuous about his nose!
some further portraits of Thomas Banks

Thomas Banks 
Richard Cosway.

British Museum

He later studied modelling with Peter Scheemakers, where he met the sculptor Joseph Nollekens. In the early 1760s he took life-classes at the St Martin’s Lane Academy and won prizes from the Society of Arts for his sculptures on historical subjects. 

In 1769 he entered the Royal Academy Schools and three years later he won a gold medal and a scholarship to study in Rome, where he stayed for the next seven years. 

He returned to England with his family as well as that of the talented nineteen-year-old artist Maria Hadfield, whose mother planned to launch her on the London art world. In January 1781 Hadfield married Richard Cosway at St George’s, Hanover Square, with Banks acting as a formal witness. The Cosways and the Banks family were to remain close friends. Evidence of this is provided by Banks’s daughter, Lavinia Forster, who in her letter to the art critic Allan Cunningham of 1 March 1830 wrote that her father ‘was in the habit of passing his evenings frequently with Cosway, and enjoying with him the inspection of his valuable portfolios of ancient drawings’ (Bell 1938, pp.23-5). 

Both Banks and Cosway were notable connoisseurs, assembling significant collections of Old Master drawings for their portfolios, with Cosway amassing 2,672 works mostly by Italian sixteenth-century and Netherlandish seventeenth-century masters. 

Banks’s friendship with Cosway extended to his being commissioned by the latter to sculpt a fireplace after a drawing by miniaturist – with a female head as the sun - for the principal drawing-room on the first floor of Cosways’ residence at 20 Stratford Place, just off Oxford Street (Banks 1938, p.91; Lloyd 2004)

Text and image from:


Thomas Banks
George Dance
8 July 1794.

British Museum


Thomas Banks
George Dance
February 1793.
Pencil and black chalk
226 x 182 mm.

Royal Academy.


Thomas Banks
Royal Academy

Bust of Joshua Reynolds bought Watson Taylor

A Bust of Sir Joshua Reynolds bought Watson Taylor.
from Reynolds niece The Dowager Marchioness of Thomond

NB. Also a plaster bust of Michaelangelo.

From Christie’s, A catalogue of the very valuable and highly important collection of ancient and modern pictures of the dowager Marchioness of Thomond, deceased…, 18 May 1821.

A catalogue of the very valuable and highly important collection of ancient and modern pictures of the dowager Marchioness of Thomond, deceased : comprising, besides various specimens of some of the greatest masters in the Italian, French, Flemish and Dutch schools, a considerable number of the finest works of the late Sir Joshua Reynolds ... and portraits of Sir Joshua by himself ... : which will be sold by auction, by Mr. Christie, at his great room, pall mall, on Friday, May 18, 1821, and following day, at one o'clock precisely.

Not relevant but interesting see -


From Literary Works of  Sir Joshua...... - Malone. 1809


Sir Joshua Reynolds
Ceracchi (1751 - 1801).
inscribed Cirachi sculpsit. Roma.
Height 720 mm.
c. 1778

The Royal Academy possesses an undated marble version of the bust, signed Cirachi sculpsit Roma
this bust was presented to the RA by Lord Taunton in 1851.


Joshua Reynolds.
Plaster Bust
After Guiseppe Ceracchi.

Sudbury Hall 
National Trust

This must have been cast from Ceracchi’s bust of Reynolds in terracotta, dated 1778, which had been presented to the Royal Academy in 1810. 

The terracotta bust had been sold in auction by Greenwood in 1792.
A marble was in the possession of

There is a version by P Sarti at the Atheneum London (see below) -
They say Sarti made new moulds of the bust, but was not allowed to keep them for his own use. "The tunic and cloak were added to the portrait by Sarti, to make the format similar to the others"?

Ceracchi’s terracotta was apparently destroyed (The Age of Neo-Classicism, Council of Europe Exhibition Catalogue, London 1972, no. 335).

The Royal Academy now possesses an undated marble version of the bust, signed Cirachi sculpsit Roma, which was presented by Lord Taunton in 1851. 

On the cast in the Octagon at the Burlington House (built 1868), the pinned cloak is different from the marble, which suggests that it too had been made from the lost terracotta.


Height 770 mm

Rotunda Royal Academy

Ceracchi (1751-1801) who lived in London during the 1770s. Specifically the cast is believed to have been made from Ceracchi’s original terracotta model, which formerly belonged to the Royal Academy although its present whereabouts is unknown. The RA also possesses Ceracchi’s marble bust of Reynolds (c.1778-9), although given the differences between the pinned cloak of the marble and this cast, it is unlikely the marble was the source.

The bust manifests Reynolds’ own ideas about sculpture, which he expressed in his 1780 Discourse to the Royal Academy. Reynolds rejected the naturalism of sculptors who utilised contemporary costume and lifelike detail, preferring the classicism of sculptors such as Ceracchi and his former employer Agostino Carlini. Ceracchi has based the portrait on Roman busts of Emperor Caracalla, presenting Reynolds as someone who not only practices, but also thinks deeply about art.

This cast is one of eight busts of artists and architects installed in the 'Octagon' in the Main Galleries at Burlington House when the RA moved there in 1868.


Bust of Sir Joshua Reynolds

Athenaeum Club
adapted by Sarti 

from an original by Ceracchi
Mid 19th century see -


Monday, 31 December 2018

Busts the in the Library of the Earl of Oxford by George Vertue.

The Busts the in the Library of the Earl of Oxford. 
Engraving of Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford.
by George Vertue.

With vignette of his library showing busts displayed on the library bookcases.

Another post in the occasional series of sculpture illustrated in other media.

Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford.
George Vertue 
after Michael Dahl.

Low resolution image from British Museum.
Unfortunately their website has been unable to deliver higher resolution images for some time - 
the vignette below was scanned from the Walpole Society Journal of 2008.


Frontispiece to catalogue of collection of pictures and portraits assembled by Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford

by George Vertue
line engraving, 1741

8 1/4 in. x 5 7/8 in. (209 mm x 149 mm) plate size; 14 7/8 in. x 11 1/8 in. (378 mm x 284 mm) paper size

National Portrait Gallery.


George Vertue (1684 - 1756).

Thomas Gibson, Circa 1680-1751 

Portrait of George Vertue
 showing an engraving after Van Dyck of Thomas de Caringnan, Prince of Savoy by Paulus Pontius.
oil on canvas.
30 x 25 inches (76.20 x 63.50 cm.)

Image from a commercial website.

Currently the best website for reviewing the collection of 371 engravings by George Vertue is the excellent Scottish National Galleries.

see -


Robert Harley Earl of Oxford
After Michael Dahl
George Vertue