Monday 7 March 2016

Roubiliac Busts of Isaac Newton

The Roubiliac Busts of Isaac Newton.

in the Wren Library, Trinity College Cambridge.

The following two pages are from 'Roubiliac's Work at Trinity College Cambridge' by Katherine Esdaile, pub. Cambridge University Press 1924.

I include them in order to show the danger of not checking ones sources and making assumptions.

Mrs Esdaile repeated and enlarged on these passages in her Louis Francois Roubiliac, pub. Oxford University Press 1929. page 20. This was picked up by Malcolm Baker in Roubiliac and the Eighteenth Century Monument, by Baker and Bindman, pub. Yale 1995, p. 65 and repeated in the Marble Index by Malcolm Baker, published by Yale in 2015.

Mrs Esdaile bases her dating and attribution of the Roubiliac bust commission to a minute in the Royal Society records of the 18th August 1785, which contains an extract from the 'Will' of John Belchier, FRS.

Having examined the Will of John Belchier (Prob 11 1126 318, public Records Office Kew) I can find no mention of any bust - the reference was probably taken from minutes from a document at the Royal Society.

'The Bust of Sir Isaac Newton I give to the Royal Society in order to have it placed at the observatory in Greenwich Park, and to be scheduled in like manner as the bust of Flamstead which I gave to the Society some years ago. NB This bust in terracotta was made under the eyes of Mr Conduirtt and several of Sir Isaac Newton's particular friends by Roubiliac from many pictures and other busts, and esteemed more like than anything extant of Sir Isaac. As I have presented to the Society the original picture of Flamstead and a head of Mr Locke, a bust being there already of Sir Isaac Newton, I choose this to be placed in the Royal Observatory, where Sir Isaac spent many hours of his life'.

Esdaile and Baker have both used this reference in order to convince that the bust in Hogarth's conversation piece of c. 1731 - the Indian Emperor was by Roubiliac or that he somehow had a hand in its conception, but a cursory inspection proves beyond any doubt that it is the bust by Rysbrack.

Neither authors seem to have recognized that the relief painted beneath is the relief by Rysbrack from the Newton monument in Westminster Abbey.

Whilst Esdaile's mistake can be forgiven, that by Baker is inexcusable.


 Extracts below From Roubiliac's Work at Trinity College, Cambridge by Katherine Esdaile, pub. Cambridge, 1924.

The NPG bust is now at Beningbrough Hall, Yorkshire the outpost of the NPG.

The Wilton House plaster bust seems to have disappeared


The Belchier - Greenwich Observatory Terracotta bust of Isaac Newton
by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

The following text is lifted from Royal Museums Greenwich website:

It repeats the same mistakes made by Katherine Esdaile in 'Roubiliac's Work at Trinity College Cambridge'  pub. Cambridge University Press 1924.

"On Newton's death in 1727, his nephew, John Conduitt, allowed John Rysbrack to take casts of his face. Two of these were obtained by Roubiliac and in about 1731. Conduitt commissioned him to make this terracotta bust from them.  It was later owned by the surgeon John Belchier FRS, who at his death in 1785 left it to the Royal Society with instructions that it should be placed in the Royal Observatory at Greenwich".
"In his will Belchier also stated that, as a portrait, it was 'esteemed more like than anything extant of Sir Isaac'. Some forty to fifty years later, at Greenwich, the head was broken off in an accident and, after being repaired, the whole was painted white. The result was that by the later 19th century the bust was mistaken for a low-value plaster one and it remained at the Observatory up to and throughout the Second World War, on occasions provided with a tin hat, before moving to Herstmonceux with the Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO) organization in the 1950s. The original was considered 'lost' until the error was discovered in 1961, when it was stripped of paint and expertly restored by the British Museum. After the RGO later moved to Cambridge, it was lent to the Fitzwilliam Museum, mainly for safety. It returned to Greenwich and the NMM's custody on the closure of the RGO in 1998".

Once again - nothing in Belchier's will confirms this. I am happy to provide a copy of this will to anyone interested.

Our Belchier should not be confused with the Cabinet Maker of St Paul's Churchyard with the same name.

The Royal Society Bust of Isaac Newton.
by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

Inscribed on Socle NEWTON 1738.

Perhaps with the Royal Society from April 1738 when it had been purchased by William Freman FRS 'with intention of making a present of it to the (Royal) Society, (Journal Book Vol. XVII pp 231 - 2 - 13 April 1738). There is also a minute of the Council the minutes CMC Vol 2 for 19th June 1738 which records 'Mr Rubillac's Bill for a pedestal to Sir Isaac Newtons bust £2:7:0'
William Freman, DD. (d. 1750 info Keynes) of Harnells, Aspenden, Hertfordshire, of Magdalene College, Oxford. where he was a substantial benefactor and donated the Chapel Organ.
Married Catherine Blount
Appointed Sherriff of Hertfordshire in 1732.
Elected to Royal Society 27 March 1735.

William Freman, ‘Observations of a Traveller in England principally on the Seats and Mansions of the Nobility . . . from 1722-1745’ Copy in Soane Museum.

Thomas Hudson painted the daughter of William Freman - Catherine, The Hon. Mrs Charles Yorke (Wimpole Hall). c.1755.

 Note - Alan Ramsay painted portraits of his brother Ralph and his brothers wife in 1750 - .Catherine Freman, who married the Hon Charles Yorke (1722-1770), second son of Philip, 1st Earl of Hardwicke; married 19 May 1755 Catherine only child and heir of William Freman of Aspenden Hall, Hertfordshire by his wife Catherine , daughter of Sir Thomas Pope Blount of Tyttenhanger, Hertfordshire; their granddaughter, who married the 2nd Earl of Caledon,Tyttenhanger Park, Hetfordshire; thence by descent Christie's, London, sale, 3 March 1982, whence acquired by the vendor.
see Hertfordshire Records for Freman family papers.


Marble Bust of Isaac Newton. 

Louis Francois Roubiliac.

signed and dated 1751.

The Wren Library Trinity College


An undated stipple engraving of the Terracotta Roubiliac bust of Isaac Newton.

as published in Roubiliac, Esdaile, 1929.


The Poulett / Rothschild Marble bust of Isaac Newton.
Paired with a bust of Alexander Pope.

Whilst it cannot presently be proved, the only eighteenth century references to this pairing of the busts of Newton and Pope are those referred to in February 1741 in the Gentleman's Magazine and later as in the long room in Wiltshire's Assembly Rooms on The Terrace Walk in Bath.

'On Mr Nash's present of his own picture at full length, fixt between the bustos of Mr Pope and Sir Is Newton in the long room at Bath'.

These rooms went into decline after the building of the New assembly Rooms in the Upper part of the town in 1771.

Wiltshire's Assembly Rooms appear to have gone out of business by 1782 when the premises were taken over by  William Glover who subsequently went into partnership in 1787 with John Lewin Newman a Laceman of Ave Maria Lane, City of London (Bankrupt in 1780), with their 'London, Sheffield and Birmingham Repository'.

The Repository arrived on the local scene with a big popular sale held in the winter of 1782-3 at the abandoned assembly rooms on the west side of Terrace Walk, a sale so successful that it became permanent. Not only did the proprietors, William Glover and J.L. Newman set very competitive prices, they ventured into territory beyond the scope of the regular toyshops, displaying for example prints, maps, and musical instruments. In 1788 the partnership broke up amicably and Newman carried on. To extend his range he became an agent for Allgood & Edwards' lacquered metalware from Pontypool and sold reproduction oil paintings on behalf of the Polygraphic Society of London (exhibited in a separate room where customers were also welcome to read the London, provincial and Irish newspapers in return for a small subscription). Bath Chronicle September 1792

After five years' enterprising effort on his own account Newman received notice to quit the old assembly rooms. Dubious about finding premises spacious enough to continue;. he began selling off and then auctioning his stock. Unexpectedly though, the national financial crisis of 1793 which bankrupted the Somersetshire Bank in Milsom Street left properties there vacant, and Newman moved into no. 40 with fresh supplies in April 1794.

info from - Eighteenth Century Shops and the Luxury Trade by Trevor Fawcett

By 1802 it was in use as a warehouse - The Historic and New Bath Guide

Perversely Malcolm Baker in both the Catalogue for the exhibition of the Roubiliac busts of Pope at Waddesden Manor in 2014, and in the Marble Index pub. Yale 2015, and without a shred of evidence, insists that they were commissioned by Vere Poulett for the third Earl Poulett's house on the river Thames at Twickenham just east along the river from Alexander Pope's Villa.

Malcolm Baker was certainly party to the information of the Vertue Drawing and the pair of busts in Wiltshire's Assembly Rooms by 2003.

In Goldsmiths biography of Beau Nash - The Life of Richard Nash of Bath, Esq, 2nd Edition London and Bath, J. Newbury and W. Frederick. 1762.

Goldsmith repeats the epigram attributed to Lord Chesterfield but almost certainly by Jane Brereton d. (1740), originally a poem of six stanzas.

Immortal Newton never Spoke
More truth than here you'll find
Nor Pope himself e'er penned a joke
more cruel on mankind.

This picture, plac’d the busts between
  Gives Satire all its strength;
Wisdom and Wit are little seen
  While Folly glares at length.

An Epigram on the portrait of Beau Nash placed between the busts of Pope and Newton in the Pump Room at Bath, England. Attributed to Lord Chesterfield by Dr. Matthew Maty in his Memoirs of Chesterfield. Sec. IV, prefixed to second ed. of Miscellaneous Works of the Earl of Chesterfield. Locker-Lampson credits only four of the lines of the whole epigram to Chesterfield. Jane Brereton given credit for them. (See poems. 1744.) A copy of the poems of Henry Norris (1740) in the British Museum contains the lines. See Notes and Queries, Feb. 10, 1917. P. 119; also Aug., 1917. P. 379.

It is generally attributed to Chesterfield, and is in Maty's edition of his works, but Mr. Dyce found it to be part of six stanzas by Jane Brereton, who wrote under the name of Melissa.

Whilst in no way proof that the busts were still there in 1762 it certainly lends credence to the theory.

Richard (Beau) Nash (1674 - 1761).



The Ancestral Home of the Pouletts was Hinton House, Hinton St George, Somerset who had been there since the 15th century.
The house was updated over the centuries, most drastically, the alterations at Hinton occurred under John, 4th Earl Poulett (1756 - 1819). In 1794, the Earl initially turned to Sir John Soane to remodel the interior - but ultimately chose the newly fashionable Gothic style as promoted by James Wyatt (1746 -1813)

see C.G. Winn, The Pouletts of Hinton St George, privately published, 1976, p.143.

An Inventory for Hinton House.
 Somerset Archive and Record Service. DD/PT Box 9: Inventory of the effects at the residence of the late Earl Poulett at Hinton St. George. Somersetshire, May 15th 1819.

Info from Sotheby's. This needs to be checked!

The majority of the contents of Hinton House were sold by George, 8th Earl Poulett (d. 1973) in sales at Sotheby's London, 1st November and 8th November 1968 and 28th March 1969.

Vere Poulett (1710 -1787, had succeeded his unmarried brother John the 2nd Earl as 3rd Earl Poulett in 1764. In 1755 he had married Mary Butt at the house of her uncle, Nathaniel Lloyd, in Lincolns Inn Fields.

In about 1759 they acquired the use of the house that Dr William Battie (or Batty) of Great Russell Street had built for himself on the bank of the River Thames in Twickenham. This property, later came to be called Poulett Lodge.
 The house had actually been bought by, or perhaps in the name of, Nathaniel Lloyd himself although it was transferred into the ownership of Vere Poulett in 1761. Curiously, Vere is recorded with a tenancy of the Vicarage of St Mary's Church in 1760.
Poulett Lodge, Twickenham - A riverside mansion built by Dr William Battie, President of the Royal Society of Physicians, in 1740-2 to replace a previous house of Lord Denbeigh destroyed by fire in 1734. It had three storeys and three bays with wings reaching out from the ground floor. On the first floor in the centre was a bay supported on pillars.
This property was noted for being leased to other than the incumbent of the parish, from time to time. 
Most of the above info from Twickenham Museum.

View looking across the river towards the grand house fronting the Thames; three horses pull a fishing boat in foreground, a tree to the left.  1749, this state later  Etching

View of Dr Batty's House at Twickenham.
262 x 419 cms.
John Bowles.

Reprint 1840 of the original of1749.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

View of Twickenham from the Thames, which flows into the left foreground, with two large houses on the bank, one belonging to Barnaby Backwell and another belonging to Dr Battie further along and three boats boats on the water; plate 31 of a series.  1753  Etching

A View near Twickenham.
Cross Deep House on the Left and William Batties House on the right.
Engraved and published by John Boydell.
255 x 418 mm.
British Museum

Engraving From England Displayed, 1769.
260 x 180 mm.

Residents -
1759. - Nathaniel Lloyd (d1774)
1774. - Vere, 3rd Earl Poulett (1710-1788), purchaser
1788.-  Mary, Dowager Countess Poulett (d.1819)
tenant of 4th Earl (d.1819)
1820 - Mrs.Osbaldiston, Tenant of 5th Earl (d.1864)
6th Earl Cardigan (1769-1837), ditto
Colonel and Mrs.Webb, ditto
1826 - Margaret, Dowager Countess Poulett
(d.1838), ditto
Info - Twickenham Museum

The whole building was totally remodelled in 1870 -72 to a design of Frederic Chancellor (1825-1918). 

Demolished in 1933 and replaced by Thames Eyot flats.

see my previous posts:


The Poulett bust of Isaac Newton.

by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

The Poulett busts of Pope and Newton
At Waddesden Manor 2014.

This photograph from:


The Drawing of Wiltshire's Assembly Rooms Bath by James Vertue c 1741.

Distinguishable by its round windows, Lindsey's Assembly Rooms [Lovelace's or Wiltshire's Assembly Rooms] (Catharine Lovelace held the lease for Lindsey's fleetingly from 1736-7, before it became Wiltshire's). Designed by John Wood for Humphrey Thayer on the Old Bowling Green and Abbey Orchard c.1727 for Dame Lindsey. Thayer was a London apothecary and was on the charitable board behind the General Hospital, our Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, the original building of which was designed by John Wood. Lindsey was a retired singer and the rooms were opened on 6th April 1730. 

It fell into disuse in the 1780's because of the competition from the New Assembly rooms in the upper town.
The bust was bought by dealer Cyril Humphries of Bond St. London, from Sotheby's and sold 1969 to Armand G. Erpf. of New York on his death in 1971, passed to his widow who became Mrs Gerrit P.van de Bovenkamp.

The Newton bust next appears without the Pope at Sotheby's, New York - Benjamin Sonnenberg sale, Lot 391, on 5 June, 1979, where it was bought jointly by 14, St James Place and Cyril Humphries. The Newton is now in the Collection of Lord Rothschild. July 2000.
Notes -Poulett, Vere, Earl Poulett 3rd, MP.
Literature -  Hinton St George, Somerset
Poulett med C.G. Winn, The Pouletts of Hinton St George. London, [1976]. Owned by John Poulett, Earl Poulett - J.P. Neale's Views, 2nd series vol. IV,
1828. J.B. Burke, Visitation, 2nd Series, II, 1855. 114.
S. Jones, Views, 1829.
Sold Sotheby's New York, 26 January 2012 to Lord Rothschild - It has now been reunited with its pair - the bust of Alexander Pope.

The Marble Bust of Isaac Newton
by Louis Francois Roubiliac
Trinity College, Dublin.


This image from -

For the location of the busts in the Library see -

Bust of Isaac Newton
Louis Francois  Roubiliac.
 Trinity College, Dublin

A Roubiliac type bust of Isaac Newton - unknown material.
Properety of Christopher Turnor (1873 - 1940).
Frontispiece to Isaac Newton by Brodetsky, 1929.

Welcome Images, Welcome Library.

Where is it now?

There is a version of this bust at Beningbrough Hall, Yorkshire Edward Hodges Baily. 
but it lacks the chemise - see photograph below.

For Stoke Rochford Hall, Lincolnshire see:

Isaac Newton attended school at Stoke Rochford and is commemorated with an obelisk 64' tall  in the park built in 1847 by Charles Turnor M.A. FRS. (1809 - 86). The nearby Newton family property Woolsthorpe Manor (now National Trust) had been purchased by the Turnors in 1733 about four years after the death of Isaac Newton. Charles Turnor was an avid collector of Newtonia - much of his collection was bequeathed to the Royal Society.


The Atheneum Club Plaster bust of Isaac Newton.

After Louis Francois Roubiliac
by Pietro Sarti,
59, Greek Street, London.

For the Sarti family of plaster cast manufacturers see:

These paragraphs (below) lifted from the above website

Peter Sarti was in business independently as a plaster cast figure maker by 1822 and was described as a mould figure maker in Robson’s 1826 London directory. Sarti’s premises at 59 Greek St were shared in 1827 and 1829 variously with a piano maker, a cabinet maker, an ironmonger and the booksellers, Messrs Treutel Wurt and Co of 30 Soho Square, according to their insurance policy (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 516/1069311, 527/1099411). Sarti was at 92 Dean St, 1833-7 and perhaps later, sometimes listed as Pedro Sarti, and was succeeded in business there by James Loft and Angus Fletcher as sculptors and moulders until 1839, later by Loft and William Scoular as sculptors, figure makers and moulders until 1844, and then by Scoular alone until his death in 1854 (London Gazette 10 September 1839, 15 November 1844; Survey of London, vol.33, St Anne Soho, 1966, p.140). Subsequently, the premises were occupied by Scoular & Edwards in 1855, while James Loft went on to trade from 29 Clipstone St. For another figure maker by the name of Pietro Sarti (d.1854), see Alexander Sarti, above.

Works in plaster: A good idea of the range of Sarti’s stock-in-trade can be had from the catalogue issued by his successors in January 1839, very soon after he had sold the business (see Loft & Co.’s, late Sarti’s, Gallery of Casts from Antique and Modern Statues, Busts, Bassi Relievi, &c, 1839 (Tate Library). The most expensive antique statue was the 7ft Group of Laocoon at £30, while the most expensive modern work was Canova’s 6ft Group of the Graces at £21. The following large-scale works by British sculptors were stocked: Westmacott’s Venus and Cupid at £5.10s, Distressed Mother at £6 and Nymph at £4, Baily’s Eve at £5 and Maternal Affection at £6, and Nollekens’ Mercury and Juno, both at 8s. The catalogue featured small-scale copies from modern works, antique busts, modern busts (numerous figures from British history, mostly at 15s), bas reliefs including Flaxman’s frieze from Covent Garden Theatre and his Mercury and Pandora, animal torsos, pedestals, brackets and candelabra.

Peter Sarti is surely the ‘Sarti of Greek-Street’, described by John Thomas Smith as being in possession of moulds of John Deare’s bas-reliefs, Summer and Autumn, and also of ‘fifty-two varieties of Fiamingo’s children’ (John Thomas Smith, Nollekens and his times, 1828, vol.2, p.313). 

For the Athenaeum Club in London in 1830, he supplied figures of Diana dressing and Venus victorious at £8.8s each and eleven busts of British worthies at £1.10s each (Joshua Reynolds cost £3.3s since it needed moulding as well; Sarti was not allowed by the Royal Academy to retain the mould) (John Kenworthy-Browne, A Temple of British Worthies: The Historic Portrait Busts at the Athenaeum, 2011, especially pp.29-30). Sarti produced various busts, Dryden, Milton and Locke, signed (Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire), and Lord Tenterden, 1833 (untraced), as well as figures, Apollo and Diana, 1835, for Goldsmiths’ Hall (Roscoe 2009).

Bust of Newton cast by Pietro Sarti and supplied in 1830.

This cast was made from the marble bust by Roubiliac at the Wren Library, Cambridge, which is signed and dated 1751. Another marble bust by Roubiliac, at the Royal Society, London, differs in certain details of drapery.

There is another version of the Sarti Bust of Newton at Wimpole Hall, Cambridge (National Trust) alongside busts of Pope and Locke.


 Isaac Newton by Edward Hodges Bailey, 1828.
After Louis Francois Roubiliac.
28"  - 711 mm. tall.

NB - this bust has no chemise or under shirt unlike the Poulett / Rothschild Bust of Isaac Newton.

This bust was commissioned in 1828 along with a bust of Samuel Johnson by Nollekens of 1777 by Robert Vernon who left them to the Nation in 1845. 

Hodges Bailey also sculpted busts of  John Locke and Francis Bacon after Roubiliac in 1828.

Formerly in the Tate Gallery.

now at Beningbrough Hall. Yorkshire.

© National Portrait Gallery, London.

Samuel Johnson, by Edward Hodges Baily, after  Joseph Nollekens, 1828, based on a work of 1777 - NPG 996 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Samuel Johnson
 Edward Hodges Baily
Height 27"
After Nollekens, 1777.

© National Portrait Gallery, London.


Not really relevant but worth putting in for amusements sake -

On the 16th of October 1769, Nathaniel Lloyd, of Twickenham, Middlesex, Esquire, completed his will and testament in the following terms:
'What I am going to bequeath,
When this frail spark submits to death;
But still I hope the spark divine
With its congenial stars shall shine;
My good Executors, fulfil,
I pray ye, fairly, my last will,
With first and second codicil.
First, I give to dear Lord Hinton,
At Tryford school not at Winton,
One hundred guineas for a ring,
Or some such memorandum thing;
and truly, much I should have blundered,
Had I not giv'n another hundred To Vero,
Earl Poulett's second son,
Who dearly loves a little fun.
Unto my nephew, Robert Longden,
Of whom none says he ever has wrong done,
Tho' civil law he loves to lash,
I give two hundred pounds in cash.
One hundred pounds to my niece Tuder
(With loving eyes one Matthew view'd her)
And to her children just among 'em
A hundred more, and not to wrong 'ern,
In equal shares I freely give it,
Not doubting but they will receive it.
To Sally Crouch and Mary Lee,
If they with Lady Poulett be,
Because they would the year did dwell
In Twickenham House, and served full well,
When Lord and Lady both did stray
Over the hills and far away:
The first, ten pounds: the other twenty;
And, girls, I hope that will content ye.
In seventeen hundred, sixty-nine,
This with my hand I write and sign,
The sixteenth day of fair October,
In merry mood, but sound and sober;
Past my threescore-and-fifteenth year,
With spirits gay and conscience clear,
joyous and frolicsome, though old,
And like this day—serene, but cold;
To foes well-wishing, and to friends most kind,
In perfect charity with all mankind.
For what remains, I must desire,
To use the words of Matthew Prior:
"Supreme! All wise! Eternal Potentate!
Sole Author! sole Disposer of my Fate!
Enthron'd in Light and Immortality!
Whom no man fully sees, and none can see!
Original of Beings! Power Divine!
Since that I think, and that I live, is thine!
Benign Creator! let thy plastic hand
Dispose of its own effect! Let thy command
Restore, Great Father, thy instructed son,
And in my act, may Thy great will be done

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