Monday, 25 July 2016

Lead Statues on the Roof of the Clarendon Building, Oxford University by John van Nost II.

Lead Statues on the Roof of the Clarendon Building
Oxford University.
Perhaps cast by John van Nost II.

 The lead statues on the roof, formerly nine in number, represent the Muses, and were designed by Sir James Thornhill, whose drawings for them are preserved in the Clarke collection at Worcester College (in a volume of engravings in Case T.D. 5).

  According to an entry in Hearne's 'diary, dated 12 Nov. 1717, 'Last week began to be put up upon the new Printing House in Oxford, a Parcell of Heavy Leaden Statues call'd the nine Muses. These leaden Statues had lain at ye Wharf above Two Years, having been first of all refused. But Basket at last prevail'd with the Delegates to take them, and by that means he hath got more Money from them, these statues coming to about six hundred Pounds.'  In fact the Vice-Chancellor's accounts show that they cost the University only £300. Their place of origin is not mentioned, but it is likely that it was John van Nost's leaden figure manufactory in Piccadilly, for in March 1719–20.

 Dr. Clarke and Townesend went up to London in order to bespeak some 'Vases for the printing house', and 'agreed with Mr. Noist for 80li for the three, to be delivered to the Oxford barge'. These vases were intended to occupy vacant pedestals on the roof, where they can be seen in Williams's view of 1732–3, but they have since disappeared.



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