Sunday, 12 June 2016

Bronze Bust of Isaac Newton by Michael Rysbrack.

The Bronze Bust of Isaac Newton
by Michael Rysbrack.
Currently on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
on loan from Trinity College Cambridge.
Bronze Life Size Bust of Isaac Newton
After the Conduitt Bust
by Michael Rysbrack
53.3cms x 55.9 wide.
Provenance -
Lot 75, Rysbrack Sale, by Langford's of The Piazza, Covent Garden - 20 April 1765. along with lot 74, a bronze bust of Oliver Cromwell.
In the Collection of Q.V. Watney, of Cornbury Park, Charlbury, Oxford, sold Lot 7, Christies 22 May 1967 along with the bust of Cromwell.
The bust of Cromwell is a version of the Sir Edward Littleton terracotta now in the National Maritime Museum Greenwich.
Bought by Humphrey Whitbread (1912 -2000) who bequeathed it to Trinity College Cambridge.
Although the appearance of the bust of Newton, with the pendant bust of Cromwell, is first recorded with certainty in the collection of O.V. Watney, there is the tenuous possibility that it passed to him from the collection of the Earls of Portsmouth. Watney's mother, Lady Margaret, was a daughter of the 5th Earl of Portsmouth.
In the 18th Century the Portsmouths had acquired, by marriage to a great-niece of Sir Isaac Newton, Rysbrack's celebrated marble version of the bust of Newton mentioned above, along with a number of other Newton-related items . It is therefore possible that the Portsmouths had, at one time, also owned the bronze version of the bust of Newton - along with the present bust of Cromwell - and that the two passed through the family to Watney through his mother.

The images above were very kindly supplied to me by Victoria Avery of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. I am also very grateful to Tim Knox, director of the Fitzwilliam Museum for putting me in touch with Victoria Avery.
For the Rysbrack sale catalogue of 1765 see -
the next entry in this blog

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