A Terracotta Bust of Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744).
at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Signed and dated - Mich: Rysbrack/fecit 1760.
57 cms tall.
Paired with a Terracotta Bust of John Milton.
for the bust of Milton see the next entry in this blog.
by Michael Rysbrack (1694 - 1770).
Acquired by the Fitzwilliam in 1932.
Created for Sir Edward Littleton, Bart. for his house, Teddesley Park, Staffordshire, 1760; iThe bust remained there until removed to London by Lord Hatherton, a collateral descendant, in 1931; exhibited at Messrs Spink's, London and bought through them from Lord Hatherton, 1932.
This is one of eight busts of British worthies made by Rysbrack for Sir Edward Littleton, 4th Baronet (d.1812) for his new house, Teddesley Hall near Stafford (built c 1754, now demolished), when he was furnishing it.. They essentially comprised four pairs: Raleigh and Bacon, Shakespeare and Pope, Cromwell and Milton, and Newton and Locke.
Teddesley was inherited by his great nephew Edward Walhouse, who changed his name to Littleton in order to inherit the estates (but not the baronetcy). He became Baron Hatherton in 1835.
Teddesley like many country houses was requisitioned during the 2nd World War. The fifth Lord Hatherton sold most of the Littleton's remaining estates in the area in 1953, including the Hall. Being no longer required, it was demolished by the new owner in 1954
see Victoria County History - http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/staffs/vol5/pp103-126#s2
Littleton also had other examples in terracotta by Rysbrack of whom he was an important patron. Most were dispersed through Spink's, London, in 1932 by his descendant Lord Hatherton, when Sir James Caird purchased the busts of Bacon, Raleigh and Cromwell for the National Maritime Museum. Bacon was a politician, Lord Chancellor of England and an important scientific philosopher. His writings underpin the experimental empiricism by which navigation, astronomy and many other fields advanced in Britain from the late 17th century. The National Maritime Museum owns three busts out of the set of seven by Rysbrack.
In a letter from Rysbrack to Sir Edward Littleton, 11th December 1759. 'As for the bust of Mr Pope you must instruct me how to Dress it, because he is not in that ancient Dress which the others are, neither has he that character in his face. Tho'as great a man.'
See - Michael Rysbrack: Sculptor. London: p. pp. 77-8
Ref. see pp. 77-8, 223; Webb, Marjorie Isabel. 1954.
A Marble Bust of Alexander Pope.
Michael Rysbrack c. 1729.
52.4 cms tall.
National Portrait Gallery.
Formerly in the Athenaeum Club.
The following text is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977.
Another artist whose portrait pleases posterity perhaps more than it did the sitter, is Michael Rysbrack. A fine though somewhat aloof marble given by Sir William Garrow (1760-1840) to his executor E.L. Badeley (d.1868), who presented it to the Athenaeum is incised ALEX: POPE Poeta / M- -R-S- / 1730. [Editor's note, 2014: now National Portrait Gallery.] No sittings are recorded but an undated letter, apparently written in the summer of 1725, in which directions to the sculptor's house are given by James Gibbs, Lord Oxford's architect, suggest that Pope may well have visited him. Although Rysbrack would presumably have made a model, no clay, terracotta or plaster of this date is now known.
The terracotta acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum from Spinks in 1932 is posthumous. Completed by January 1761, it is one of a number of pieces discussed in letters from the sculptor to his patron Sir Edward Littleton of Teddesley Hall, Penkridge, Stafford.
Some form of the bust must, however, have existed by 29 March 1729 when The Weekly Journal or the British Gazetteer tartly versified: 'REISBRANK, no longer let thy Art be shown / in forming Monsters from the Parian Stone . . .' and in November complaint was made that certain 'Gentlemen of the Dunciad' have gone so far as to 'libel an eminent sculptor for making our author's Busto in marble, at the request of Mr. Gibbs the Architect'.
A verse generally accepted as Pope's, sent by him to Lord Oxford, proclaimed: ‘Tis granted Sir: the Busto's a damn'd head / Pope is a little Elf / All he can say for't, is, He neither made / the Busto, nor himself'.
In 1732 George Vertue included 'Mr Alex Pope a Marble' in the list of thirty-nine items 'Modelld from the life many Nobleman Ladies & Learned men and others'.
In 1734 a Mr Gerard wrote, 'Pope ordered several Pictures and Busts of Himself, in which he would have been represented as a comely Person; but Mr. Rysbrack scorning to prostitute his Art, made a Bust so like him, that Pope returned it without paying for it'.
Kerslake quotes liberally from Wimsatt - The Portraits of Alexander Pope pub.Yale. 1965.
The Marble bust of Alexander Pope, photograph taken at the Exhibition at Waddesden Manor, Buckinghamshire 18th June - 26 October 2014.
My advice to anyone tempted is to not buy the short catalogue, it is overpriced and appears hurriedly produced and is very thin on information. This blog covers the subject of the Roubiliac Pope busts in depth and is free. http://bathartandarchitecture.blogspot.co.uk/
The Busts of Gibbs and Alexander Pope from the Collection of James Gibbs.
There are two 18th and 19th century references to busts of James Gibbs which have been researched thoroughly and in depth by Gordon Balderston viz -
A fine bust of Jac. Gibbs sold by Christie's lot 88, 27 March 1783, first noted by Rupert Gunnis in the first edition of his dictionary of British Sculptors, 1953.
A marble bust of Gibbs was sold at the Sale of Horace Walpole's Collection (from the Star Chamber) lot 99 - 13 May 1842.
Gordon Balderston has written at length on Rysbrack and about the busts of James Gibbs and Alexander Pope by Rysbrack in The Georgian Group Journal vol XI - 2001.
In this attempt to give a history of the bewigged bust of James Gibbs (now in the V and A) and of the bust of Alexander Pope by Rysbrack (NPG) I have relied heavily on the fine detective work of Mr Balderston and cannot claim any kudos for this for myself.
Both of these busts had been put up for sale at Messrs Christie and Ansell on Thursday 27 March 1780 and the following day, by the impecunious Sir George and Lady Chalmers, who had been advised to do so by Sir William Chambers (1723 - 96).
Lot 88 was described as 'A fine bust of Jac. Gibbs by Rysbrack', the bust of Pope was the following lot 89 which as a result of a printing error had been added, along with the next three lots to the catalogue by hand.
The Chalmers had inherited the busts from the Scottish, and Catholic painter Cosmo Alexander (1724 - 72), originally from Aberdeen, who in turn had inherited them from James Gibbs. Isabella Chalmers was Cosmo's sister.
Gibbs had died a bachelor on Monday 5th August 1754. He left the bulk of his estate, 7 houses to four of his friends, Cosmo Alexander inherited Gibb's home at 5 Henrietta St. This bequest also included the contents and the busts of Alexander Pope and James Gibbs.
'my leasehold estate in houses being six in the parish of Saint Mary le Bon and one in Argyle ground in the parish of St James Westminster...
Item I give and bequeath to Mr Cosmo Alexander my house I live in with all its furniture as it stands with pictures bustoes etc with its original lease and insurance from fire he paying the ground rent and Kings Taxes'.
Because of his Jacobite sympathies Cosmo Alexander he was declared a wanted man after the battle of Culloden sought refuge abroad and was living in Rome from Easter 1747 until June 1751. He emigrated to America in 1766. His sister Isabella (d. 1716 April 1784) had married in Edinburgh, Sir George Chalmers another Scottish artist, on 4 June 1768. They in turn inherited Gibbs house and contents.
The bust of Gibbs was knocked down at the sale to Horace Walpole for 7 guineas and shortly afterwards it was placed in the Star Chamber at Strawberry Hill where it remained until it was sold in the great Strawberry Hill Sale of 1842, where it was lot 99 described as 'A noble marble bust of Gibbs the architect, finely modelled and beautifully executed, on black marble pedestal, by Rysbrack'. It again fetched 7 guineas and was bought by Forster ( unidentified - who also bought many other lots at the sale).
The bust of Gibbs reappeared in 1885 when it was presented to the church of St Martin's in the Field by the silver merchant, jeweller and art dealer William Bloore (d. 1902) of the Strand.
It was sold to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1988.
The bust of Alexander Pope was knocked down in the sale of 28 March 1783 lot 89 to Lord Vere the future 5th Duke of St Albans for £6 16s 6d. Its subsequent owner was the famous advocate William Garrow KC. PC. FRS. (1760 - 1840) - Garrow gave the bust to his friend Edward Lowth Badely (1803 - 68) a barrister and ecclesiastical lawyer who bequeathed to the Athenaeum Club in 1868, where it remained until 1985 when it was consigned to Christie's sale rooms - it was eventually sold by private treaty to The National Portrait Gallery.
Gordon Balderston has also written
William Thomas, Steward of the ‘Marybone’ estate Georgian Group Journal, 2004 - 05.Vol. XIV.
The Genesis of Edward Salter aetatis 6. Georgian Group Journal, 2000, Vol. X.
Giovanni Battista Guelphi: Five busts for Queen Carolines Hermitage in Richmond. Sculpture Journal, Vol 17.1, 2008. page 83.
The list of the works of Michael Rysbrack in Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain.... pub. Yale. 2009.