Friday, 16 February 2018

The Portraits of John Locke by and After Kneller

The Portraits of John Locke 
by and after Godfrey Kneller (d. 1723).

This post forms part of a much wider study into the portrait sculpture at Oxford University, with particular reference here to the lead Cheere type bust of John Locke at The Bodleian Library and the marble bust of Locke after Roubiliac by Edward Hodges Baily at Magdalen College, Oxford.

I am very grateful to Dana Josephson for suggesting the project and for all his assistance.

I would also like to thank Dr Nicolas Bell of the Wren Library, Sir David Clary, Lady Heather Clary and Rachel Mehtar at Magdalen College Oxford and Stephen Hebron of the Weston Library for making these posts possible.

John Locke
Godfrey Kneller
Formerly at Houghton

Hermitage Museum, St Petersberg.

There were several copies of this painting made in the early 18th Century.


John Locke
 Studio of? Kneller
76.2 x 63.5 cms
with Philip Mould Historical Portraits.

This portrait follows closely the detail of the Houghton Kneller Portrait|-Sir-Godfrey-Kneller-Bt.,-Studio-of


John Locke 
after Kneller
The Vyne
National Trust

The drawing of the hair is different to the Kneller  but is the same as that used in the John Smith Mezzotint of 1721 and the George Vertue engraving of 1738 (below).

John Locke

National Portrait Gallery

A selection of engravings, all after Godfey Kneller's original portrait.
I include them to illustrate that the various bust made of John Locke had their basis in the Kneller portraits and its engravings

Portrait of John Locke, half-length to front, with head turned to look towards right; wearing a loose gown over shirt with high collar; in an oval frame decorated with Acanthus leaves on top, placed on a pedestal, with coat of arms in front; after Kneller.  1713  Engraving

John Locke 
after Godfrey Kneller
George Vertue 
251 x 162 mm.


John Locke
After Kneller
Engraved Bernard Picart
141 x 87 mm


Portrait of John Locke, half-length to front, with head turned to look towards right; wearing a loose gown over shirt with high collar; in an oval frame decorated with Acanthus leaves on top, placed on a pedestal, with coat of arms in front; after Kneller

John Locke
After G. Kneller.
Engraved by George Vertue.
178 x 101 mm.

British Museum.

Portrait, half length in an oval frame, open collar and gown. 1721  Mezzotint

John Locke.
After G. Kneller.
Mezzotint by John Smith.
347 x 351mm.

British Museum.


Portrait, half-length to front, with head turned to look towards  right; wearing a loose gown over shirt with high collar; in an oval frame decorated with shell, scroll, Acanthus leaf and ribbon on top, placed over a pedestal, with cartouche in front, featuring a figure seated behind a globe and shield, holding a laurel branch, leaning on books; three volumes of books on left, lettered with "Lock. Vol. III.", "Lock I", and "Vol II."; illustration to Tindal's 'The continuation of Mr. Rapin's History of England' (London); after Kneller.  1738 Engraving and etching

John Locke
After Godfrey Kneller
George Vertue
355 x 3225 mm.
Book Illustration from The Continuation of Mr Rapin's History of England.

British Museum

Thursday, 15 February 2018

John Locke in Relief

John Locke in Relief.
The Medallions.


This post is part of a much wider study into the portrait sculpture at Oxford University, with particular reference here to the lead Cheere type bust of John Locke at The Bodleian Library and the marble bust after Roubiliac by Edward Hodges Baily at Magdalen College, Oxford.

I am very grateful to Dana Josephson for suggesting the project and for all his assistance.

I would also like to thank Dr Nicolas Bell of the Wren Library; Sir David Clary, Lady Heather Clary and Rachel Mehtar at Magdalen College, Oxford; and Stephen Hebron of the Weston Library for making these posts possible.

From the set of The Medallions of English Worthies c. 1733. 
by Jean Dassier (1676 - 1763).

see my previous post -

John Locke 
Jean Dassier 
c 1733.

The medallic portrait corresponds to that of Locke in an oval frame by Kneller of 1697 in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg. (Eisler)

Obv: Bust of Locke    IOHANNES LOCKE.
Rev: Liberty (Toleration) and Justice (Civil Government) seated upon a sarcophagus. Below is a putto reading; playthings scattered about
Exergue:  M. 1704
Signed:  J.D.
Ref: M.I. ii, 271/72; Eimer 68/413; Storer 2245; Freeman 162/328; Eisler I, 285/6c; Thompson 41/05

These two images courtesy Ben Weiss - I am very grateful for his support and assistance.

I would like to thank Professor Ben Weiss, Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology
Drexel University College of Medicine,
 for allowing me to reproduce the photographs and captions and for his support for my projects.

A visit to his website is essential for anyone interested in pre 19th century European Medallions.


John Locke
undated c. 1730
Bronze 42 mm diam.
National Portrait Gallery.

Bronze medal.

John Locke
Bronze Medallion
Jean Dassier
c. 1730.

41 mm
Formerly in the Royal Collection of George III
Given by George IV to the British Museum in 1825
British Museum.


Portrait of John Locke

John Locke
Height 16.5 cms
attributed to Alexander van der Hagen, assistant to Michael Rysbrack.

Thomson Collection
Art Gallery of Ontario

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Bust of John Locke by John van Nost I

The Lead Bust of John Locke.
 attributed to John van Nost I (- 1710

Height 73.7 cms

at the Yale Centre for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.


A few unedited Notes on John van Nost I.

I will post a more detailed biography in the future

The van Nosts were a family of sculptors of Flemish descent. 

The eldest, John van Nost, is first recorded working at Windsor Castle, circa 1678. 
Foreman to Arnold Quellin whose widow Francis  he married. She was daughter of the Landscape painter Jan Siberechts. She died in 1716

He had his own property and yard by circa 1687 in Haymarket which remained in family ownership until the death of his wife1716 and there manufactured 'Marble and Leaden figures, Busto's and noble Vases, Marble Chimney Pieces and Curious Marble Tables'.

In the 1690's he produced life size wooden horses for the Line of Kings in the Tower of London
In 1695 he made statues of William and Mary for the Royal Exchange

After his death in 1710, the workshop near Hyde Park Corner was continued by his cousin, also John (b.1686), possibly with his nephew, Gerard. A sale was held on April 17, 1712 a sale of Nost’s effects was held ‘at his late Dwelling House in Hyde-Park-Road (near the Queen’s Mead-house)’.


"A CATALOGUE OF Mr. Van NOST's COLLECTION OF Marble and Leaden Figures, Busto's and Noble Vases, Marble Chimney Pieces, and Curious Marble Tables, to be Sold by AUCTION, at his late Dwelling House in Hyde-Park-Road (near the Queen's Mead-house) on Thursday the 17th of this Instant, April, 1712, the Sale will begin exactly at Five in the Afternoon, and are to be seen Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before the Sale. N.B. As this Collection is the most Valuable that ever was Exposed to Sale in this Kingdom, a great deal of Money in making, and are of Intrinsick Value, as well in the Performance as to the Marble and Metal, there is a small price set to every thing, to be advanced on by the Buyers. The Statues are to be fetch'd away in 4 days after the Sale. Conditions of Sale as usual, and Catalogues had Gratis at the place above named."

After the sale, there was an advert in the Daily Courant, 23 April 1712 (cit. stating that the items that didn't sell were available for sale from his widow: "Whereas Mr. Van Nost's Collection of Figures and Vauses was last Week exposed to Sale, and some part of the same are unsold; this is to inform the Curious, that there are most Noble Figures and Vauses for Gardens, Curious Antique Heads proper to adorn Libraries, to be sold under the prime Cost, Mrs. Van Nost being resolved to dispose of the whole; and are to be seen at his late Dwelling-House in Hide-Park-Road, near the Queen's Mead-House; where Attendance is given."

Included in this sale were Lot 49 a bust lead of Mr Locke and  Lot 62 Dr Locke as big as the life.

From - Getty research -

For much more detail of the life and works of John Nost I see -

John van Nost II produced the equestrian figure of George I, now at the Barber Institute, Birmingham, another version at Stowe, John the second died in 1729, the business then being taken over by his widow ?. A sale of his effects held by his widow was advertised in the Guardian (No.60, 20 May, 1731) ..several extraordinary fine things"

John van Nost III assistan to Roubiliac was working in Dublin after 1748.


From An Antiquarian Ramble in the Streets of London: with Anecdotes...Vol. 1.
by John Thomas Smith, pub. 1846.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Bust of John Locke by Peter Scheemakers

The Busts of John Locke 
by and After Peter Scheemakers (1691 - 1781).

John Locke
Peter Scheemakers
Marble Bust
Height 19" 
The Socle is a later addition.

Sold at Christie's King Street, London.
From the Collection of Sir Albert Richardson
Lot 45, 18 - 19th September 2013.

It is worth posting a copy of Christie's Sale Catalogue entry for this bust if only to show wrong the auction rooms can be on occasion.

This majestic bust depicts the great English philosopher and physician John Locke, regarded as one of the most influential figures of the Enlightenment. Locke's theory of the mind is often cited as the origin of modern conceptions of identity and the self, and it is this self-reflective consciousness and empirical outlook that the artist has so successfully captured in marble.

The flowing and soft nature of the carving evident here were hallmarks of Guelfi's finest works, the majority of which were commissions from the aristocracy that came after his move from Rome to London in circa 1714 to work for Richard Boyle, the 3rd Earl of Burlington and creator of Chiswick Villa. The current bust was almost certainly in the 5th Earl of Hardwicke's collection at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire. In an inventory of 1881, in the Ante Library, there is a listing which notes a 'A white marble bust of Shakespeare on scagliola bust supports...Ditto ditto Lord John Sommers ditto.' Although it is not known when the bust of Locke was put onto the present - incorrect - socle, it is likely that the 1881 inventory refers to the present bust.
There is a very similar bust of Locke, carved by Guelfi, in the Royal Collection at Kensington Palace, which is part of a set of five busts commissioned by Queen Caroline in the early 1730s. Despite Vertue writing in 1731 that Guelfi had been commissioned to carve these busts, they were long attributed to the Flemish emigre Michael Rysbrack. However Rysbrack himself wrote a letter to his patron Sir Edward Littleton in 1755 in which he states 'I did not make the bust of Dr was done by Mr Guelphi an Italian who is dead'. The authorship of the busts was conclusively affirmed by Gordon Balderston in his article on the subject of the commission in 2008 (op. cit.).
Cataloguing & details

Almost certainly Charles Yorke, 5th Earl of Hardwicke (1836-1897) at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, and by descent at Wimpole.
Thomas Agar-Robartes, 6th Viscount Clifden at Wimpole Hall from 1894 and by descent.
Captain and Mrs George Bambridge at Wimpole Hall, acquired in situ in 1938.
Probably Collins & Clark, Cambridge, where acquired circa 1951.

Literature: -

G. Balderston, 'Giovanni Battista Guelfi: five busts for Queen Caroline's Hermitage in Richmond', in Sculpture Journal, 17.1 (2008), pp. 83-88.


The Christie's Richardson bust and the Trinity Library, Dublin busts of Locke
presented side by side for comparison.


The Trinity College Library Marble Bust of John Locke
by Peter Scheemakers.

Signed P.S. Ft.

In 1743 £500 was bequeathed "for the purchase of busts eminent for learning to adorn the library" by Dr Claudius Gilbert, the Vice Provost.

One of 14 busts ( 6 ancients - Homer, Socrates, Plato, Demosthenes, Aristotle and Cicero; 6 moderns - Shakespeare, Bacon, Milton, Newton Locke and Boyle and 2 benefactors Archbishop Ussher and the 8th Earl of Pembroke) contracted to Scheemakers, 6 of which were it appears were subcontracted by him.

The Shakespeare bust is signed Peter Scheemakers in full and seven others are signed PS. or P.S. Ft - Demosthenes, Cicero, Milton, Pembroke and Locke.

Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Bacon, Newton and Boyle all have attributes found in other busts by Roubiliac. Plato and Aristotle have drapery found in other Roubiliac Busts, Newton and Bacon are obvious versions of Roubiliac busts of these subjects, the Socrates and Boyle do not have immediate parallels with any other Roubiliac busts but the shape of the busts and the style of the drapery follow other Roubiliac busts.

 It has long been  suggested that Roubiliac was responsible for these 6 busts, but none of them are signed and to my eye they lack the extraordinary intensity of many of Roubiliac's busts - I would suggest that these busts, attributed to Roubiliac, were probably from his workshop in St Martin's Lane, but carved by a lesser sculptor - currently my favourite candidate for this work is John van Nost III, who arrived in Dublin in 1748/9 and perhaps going to Ireland initially to set up these busts. 

These busts all share the same style of socle including the Roubiliac bust of  Jonathan Swift, suggesting that they were perhaps added later in order to unify the set.

There is a receipt at the College from the joiner William Keating for the payment of 2s 8 1/2d for putting up busts in the long room in 1746 (see Trinity College Library a History by Peter Fox, Cambridge 2014).

The majority of these busts must have been in place by 1749 when Faulkners Dublin Journal  21 March 1749 reports that the extra bust of Jonathan Swift who died in 1745, not included in those paid for by the original Gilbert bequest.

These busts are mentioned in Horace Walpole's account of Roubiliac, which stated that the sculptor owed the commission 'to execute half the busts in Trinity College, Dublin' to a recommendation from Sir Edward Walpole but this should probably not be taken too seriously.

Scheemakers work was already known in Dublin as he had previously supplied the church of All Hallows at Drumcondra in the North of the city with an effigy of Marmaduke Coghill in 1743.

All photographs of the Trinity Library bust of Locke taken by the author in very poor light.

There is no easily available biography available of Peter Scheemakers but The Walpole Society Journal, 1999. pp 163 - 304, has a very comprehensive biography and listing of his works - Peter Scheemakers by Ingrid Roscoe.

For a useful of the Trinity College, Dublin, Library Busts, sub contacts and the maufacture of portrait busts see - 

The Making of Portrait Busts in the Mid 18th Century: Roubiliac Scheemakers and Trinity College Dublin. by Malcolm Baker.


The Sudbury Hall Plaster bust of  John Locke after Peter Scheemakers.

Inscribed Shout of Holburn
58.4 cms.

This bust is one of several at Sudbury.

Sudbury Hall © National Trust / Ian Buxton & Brian Birch

I am very grateful to Emma Lipscombe, House Steward at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire for providing me with close up photographs of the five plaster busts by Shout at Sudbury. 

These are - An as yet unidentified man (with a Roubiliac Pope type shirt).
John Locke after Scheemakers, Francis Bacon (as the documented Cheere version from Kirkleatham), Joshua Reynold (after Ceracci), Edmund Spencer (Cheere type), a classical man.

For more on the plaster busts at Sudbury by Robert Shout and some more biographical details - see my post -


John Locke.
Plaster bust after Scheemakers.

with the eared support on socle 

The tallest here 24".

From a set of Plaster busts by B&R Shout, 
sold by Christie's at the Faske, The Scottish seat of the Gladstones Sale of 7 May 2008. Lot 161.

John Milton, William Pitt, Charles James Fox, William Shakespeare, Alexander Pope, John Dryden, Alfred the Great after, Edmund Burke, Sir Isaac Newton, John Locke, Samuel Johnson, and Voltaire; each on circular socle topped by a name tablet; variously marked 'made by R. Shout/Holborn' and variously dated '1800' and '1820'.

For students of the works of the plaster shops of 18th and early 19th century plaster portraiture this is a very useful reference group - particularly as it shows King Alfred (after Rysbrack), Shakespeare, Locke (after Scheemakers), Dryden (after Scheemakers), Newton, Milton and Pope (after Roubilliac or possibly Nollekens after Roubiliac) which are all based on mid 18th century sculptures.

It is my intention to put a study together on the works of John Cheere with special reference to his portrait busts in due course.

This extract lifted from Christie's Faske sale catalogue -

"Recorded in Holden's London Directory (1806, 1807) as 'statuaries, masons and plaster figure makers' the firm of Benjamin Shout, and his son Robert (fl. 1778-1823) operated from a studio and spacious showrooms at 18 High Holborn. A bill-head dated 1806 lists their production to include 'several hundreds of figures from the Antique, and likenesses of distinguished personages' (T. Clifford, 'The plaster shops of the rococo and neo-classical era in Britain', Journal of the History of Collections, 1992, vol. IV, no. 1, pp. 63-64).

Probably purchased for Seaforth House by Sir John Gladstone as part of his fervent acquisition of objet d'art around the time he was making extensive alterations to the Library in 1817, the present plaster busts of luminaries would have been a fashionable addition to the where they have henceforth safeguarded the reading matter of many a studious Gladstone. 

The Shouts also supplied plaster busts for the library of Alexander Hood, 1st Viscount Bridport, at Cricket St. Thomas, Somerset, for Salters' Hall in 1827, and of Leigh Hunt's studio, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote:

'His room no doubt is still adorned by many a cast from Shout'

(R. Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors, London, rev.ed., 1968, pp. 350-351)".

 Gunnis available on line -

A Bronze bust of John Locke

A Bronze Bust of John Locke.

Perhaps an 18th Century bronze cast from a model by John Cheere and based on an original sculpture perhaps by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

With Gurr Johns, Art Consultants in 2006 - currently (February 2018) on the London Art Market.

Unfortunately I have so far been unable to obtain any photographs of the profiles or more importantly perhaps, the back of this bust - it would be useful to see how the socle is united with the bust. 

The Bronze bust of John Locke, approx 24" tall side by side with the Bodleian Lead bust, approx 24 " tall for comparison. 

The examination of the detail of these two busts requires close inspection - both of these busts appear very impressive (from a distance), but when seen close up the quality of the finish is surprisingly indifferent. I wouldn't pretend to be an expert in casting but I would say that both of these casts came from the same mould, and are probably at least second generation - that is to say that they have been taken from an earlier original.

Rysbrack in a letter to Sir Edward Littleton dated 28 February 1758 regarding plaster casts says that the "mould when made will be good to cast 15 or 20 casts out of it" this suggests that the mould and therefore the casts will deteriorate with each pull.

Bodleian Library Lead Bust (approx. 24" tall) side by side with the Wren Library, Trinity Plaster Bust ( size not determined - about life size) the similar plaster bust of Pope at the Wren Library, Trinity , another with Birmingham Museums formerly at Shardloes, Buckinghamshire bought in 1959 along with busts of Shakespeare Milton and Locke is 23" tall without the socle.

The Wren Library plaster bust to my eye, even although it has been over painted several times in its life, is clearly of a finer quality than the lead or the bronze version and therefore a cast from an earlier generation mould where the detail of the embroidery has been enlarged. 

English Bronze sculpture of the 18th Century is very rare - I am including here photographs of an 18th Century bronze bust of Alexander Pope sold at Sotheby's with an attribution to Roubiliac  and of the bust of Isaac Newton by Rysbrack (below) which illustrate the quality of finish achievable using punches and chisels - particular attention here should be paid to the detailed finish of the hair.

For a very useful look at English Bronze Sculpture see  Sculpture Journal Vol XIV (2005) pp 30 - 40,
Brass sculpture and the ideology of bronze in Britain 1660 - 1851, by M.G.Sullivan and in the same Journal, pp 93 - 150 : Compendium of British Bronzes 1660 - 1851 from the Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain ..... ed Ingrid Roscoe the list compiled by MG Sullivan and Emma Hardy.


Photographs courtesy Sotheby's, Bond Street, London.


The Bronze Bust of Isaac Newton
Michael Rysbrack.
at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge

NB the crispness of the casting and detailing of the eyes, the shirt, the buttons, the stitching on both the shirt and waist coat.

This sort of fine detailing is missing entirely from the bronze and lead busts of Locke.

Photographed at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge by the author.

Assumed to be lot 74 in the Rysbrack sale catalogue 20 April 1765.

I have posted previously photographs of this bust, very kindly provided to me by Victoria Avery of the Fitzwilliam Museum.

This bust - has been on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge from Trinity College, Cambridge since 2004.

Formerly in the collection of O.V. Watney of Cornbury Park,sold at Christies on 22 May 1967, Lot & together with a bronze bust of Oliver Cromwell (lot 6), bought by Humphrey Whitbread (1912 - 2000) both bequeathed to Trinity College Cambridge - the bust of Cromwell formerly on loan to the Cecil Higgins Museum, Bedford. See my previous post - omn my parallel blog.


There are several other 18th century bronze busts and statues with which the work on the bronze bust of Locke should be compared -

Scheemakers statue of Edward VI at St Thomas's Hospital, Lambeth Palace Road, London. put up in 1737, at the expense of Charles Joye, Treasurer of the Hospital who had beqeathed the money in his will. There are currently no reasonable quality images of this statue available on line - I will attempt to obtain some shortly.

 see -

The bronze of Thomas Guy by Peter Scheemakers of 1741 at Guys Hospital. Lambeth

Image above from the website of Bob Speel.


A short and not exhaustive list of 17th to mid 18th century English  larger scale bronze statuary.

As one can see a very limited number of these objects were manufactured.

1678/9 Grinling Gibbons Charles II Royal Hospital Chelsea.

1686 - Grinling Gibbons - Standing Figure James II formerly in Whitehall now in Trafalgar Square.
made by Laurens Vandermeulen and Mr A. Dievot.

Grinling Gibbons - Bronze Equestrian statue of William III, College Green, Dublin - Destroyed

1678/9 - Grinling Gibbons - Windsor Castle Bronze Equestrian Statue of Charles II cast by Josias Ibach of Stone Bridge, Hyde Park Corner.

1717 - 22 - The John van Nost II bronze Equestrian Statue of George I, now at the Barber Institute, Birmingham, formerly on the Essex Bridge in Dublin. Barber Institute Birmingham. - subsequently reproduced several times in lead.

1719 - Bronze King Henry VI by Francis Bird in  Eton College, School Yard.

1733 - 35 - Michael Rysbrack's magnificent bronze equestrian statue of William III at Bristol. This statue was made to be seen from a distance so one would not expect the quality to be as good as a sculpture made to be seen at close quarters.

1737 - Edward VI by Scheemakers - St Thomas' Hospital

1741 Statue of Thomas Guy by Peter Scheemakers - Guys Hospital

1745, Several Bronze busts of Lord Chesterfield by Louis Francois Roubiliac.
Roubiliac also produced small scale bronze reliefs of Handel, Garrick, Conyers Middleton and Pope

1753 John van Nost III - Bronze Equestrian Statue of George II cast in Dublin put up on St Stephen's Green, Dublin  - destroyed. (also tendered for by Roubiliac).

Sullivan mentions of 26 people describing themselves as founders between 1660 - 1700  and 122 between 1700 - 1750 but this of course represents the whole trade of which the casting of statuary was a minuscule part.

Sullivan also mentions a Richard Paulson, Brass Founder of St Martin's in the Fields whose will was proven in 1746 Prob 11/751

see -


Friday, 9 February 2018

Rysbrack's John Locke

John Locke.
The Busts and Statues.
by Michael Rysbrack.


John Locke
Michael Rysbrack
Portland Stone
Life Size.
Temple of British Worthies, Stowe, Buckinghamshire.

For a detailed investigation of the portrait sculpture in Temple Of Worthies at Stowe see my post -

Photographs by the author.


John Locke
Michael Rysbrack
Terracotta Bust.
Height 58.80 cm.

Put up for sale, Lot 276, Christie's King Street, 9 December 2010.

 Included in the sale was a letter From Rysbrack to his Patron Lord Littleton, dated 31 July 1756, Discussing The Delivery Of The Bust. 

The sitter facing slightly to dexter and with drapery about the shoulders.

signed to the reverse 'Mich...Rysbrack 17..5'; 

The letter is inscribed: Sir./ I am heartily Sorry to Acquaint Your Honour, that I have not been able to do anything for you this Summer, having been so Extreamly busied, and really Sir when I am in my Room, I am always Indisposed, which makes me Chuse Excercise. The bust of Lord Bacon is not burned yet but I Shall Send it with that of Mr. Locke as Soon as it can be Spared, the Statue not being yet finished; I Shall have a Great Pleasure in Seeing you before I send any of the Other Busts, that You may give your Approbation Concerning them..... When I can possibly have an Opportunity to Begin the head of Sir Walter Raleigh I will take it in hand, but it is one of the Most Difficult in your Whole list to make it do well. I am Sir London With the Greatest Respect Vere Street Your Honour's Oxford Chapel most Obedient July 31st. 1756. humble Servant Mich: Rysbrack

Condition -
minor firing cracks, damages and old restorations; minor staining and damages to the letter

Literature -

K. Esdaile ed., The Art of John Michael Rysbrack in terracotta: illustrated catalogue, Spink and Son, London, 1932. M. I. Webb, Michael Rysbrack - Sculptor, London, 1954, pp. 117, 169, 193-197 and 220. K. Eustace, 'The politics of the past - Stowe and the development of the historical portrait bust', in Apollo, July, 1998, pp. 31-40.


Executed as part of a series of busts of historical figures for Rysbrack's patron Sir Edward Littleton in 1755. 

By descent until sold at Spink and Son, London, 1932. 

Purchased in the above sale by William, 6th Duke of Portland (1857-1943), and by descent.

This bust originally formed part of a series of 'worthies' created for one of Rysbrack's most loyal patrons, Sir Edward Littleton. Littleton had torn down his family seat, Pillaton Hall, and built a new one called Teddesley Hall near Stafford. 

In a series of letters written by Rysbrack to Littleton first reproduced in 1932 and subsequently published in 1954 (Webb, op. cit., pp. 194-209; one of the letters was that included in Christies sale; the creation of this series for Teddesley is described in detail. 

In a letter dated 12 February 1756, Rysbrack says that he has completed busts of Milton, Sir Isaac Newton, Locke and Sir Francis Bacon, although they have not been sent because the Bacon '...must be Dried first, and afterwards burned which cannot be done till summer, it not Being half Dry Yet. (ibid, p. 195).' 

In July of that year the letter included in Christies sale of the Locke bust shows that the Bacon had still not been fired, but Rysbrack promised to send it along with the bust of Locke, as soon as the latter could 'be spared, the statue being not yet finished'. 

The reason he was unable to send the Locke, although finished, was that he used the bust as the model for his full length marble of Locke, commissioned for Christ Church, Oxford (in situ). 

The terracotta model for this statue is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see below). In a letter dated 21 June 1757 Rysbrack informs his patron that 'I have according to Your Desire sent three Busts Yesterday by the Waggon namely, My Lord Bacon, Mr. Lock and Milton's, they are carefully packed up and I hope you will receive them Safe which will give me much satisfaction to hear...' (ibid, pp. 196-197).

The series of busts would eventually include Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Newton and Locke. These were supplemented by portraits of Sir Edward and Lady Littleton, Cromwell and the Duke of Cumberland, along with a terracotta model for Flora, and the terracotta model for the goat Rysbrack designed for Chiswick House, today in the gardens of Chatsworth, Derbyshire.

The busts, along with the letters relating to them, remained at Teddesley Hall until 1931, when Littleton's collateral descendant, Lord Hatherton, had them removed to London for cleaning. They were sold at Spink and Son after the exghibition in July 1932, at which point the bust of Locke was acquired by the Duke of Portland.

Spink's related illustrated catalogue by Mrs Arundell Esdaile ('The Art of John Michael Rysbrack in Terracotta') fully transcribes the letters and is otherwise comprehensive. She proposed that the undated one of Cromwell may have been the bust that Vertue saw in Rysbrack's workshop in 1732, which would make it the earliest. 

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich - Caird Collection

The busts essentially comprised four pairs: Raleigh and Bacon, Shakespeare and Pope, Cromwell and Milton, and Newton and Locke. Lord Hatherton (the Littleton barony dating from 1835) consigned these -excluding Shakespeare- and other Rysbracks that his ancestor had purchased, with the related Rysbrack letters about them, to Spink's for exhibition and sale in July 1932. 

That of Shakespeare is unlocated but the V&A has one that may at least be a version. 

The National Maritime Museum's Raleigh and Bacon were conceived as a pair and the most expensive at 25 guineas each, it was not started until the Bacon had been sent off in June 1757: the others were all 16 guineas. 

These two, along with Rysbrack's Cromwell, were purchased for the Museum at Spink's by Sir James Caird.

The busts of Pope and Milton are now at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
see my post -


John Locke
Michael Rysbrack
Signed Mich. Rysbrack and dated 1755.
Height 58.4 cms.

The Bozzetto/Maquette in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In the Chapter Minutes for Christ Church College of 27 September 1754 it states "Willm Lock Esqre having intimated his intention of giving a statue of John Lock Esq., formerly a student of Christ Church and an ornament to this society, it is ordered that it shall be placed in any part of the library that Mr Lock shall think proper.

This Mr Lock claimed to be a relation of John Locke.

The maquette is dated 1755 which suggests that Rysbrack had been engaged for the project by late 1754 and is so close to the marble statue that it must be the final design.

Possibly lot 56 ( a figure of Mr Lock for Oxford) in the second day's sale held on Rysbrack's retirement by Langford & Son, at their House in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden, London, 25 January 1766, under 'Models in Terra Cotta...A figure of Mr. Locke, for Oxford'. 

Included in the sale of Henry Farrer F.S.A. held at Christie, Manson & Woods, 8 King Street, London, 12 to 18 June 1866. Sold on the second day, 13 June 1866, lot 220, described as 'Statuette of Locke, holding a book', purchased by Mr A. Myers for 10s. 

Purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum from Mr Myers in 1867 for £4 4s. Myers purchased the terracotta model of Shakespeare by Roubiliac from the same sale, which was also acquired by the Museum (V&A Mus. No. 32-1867).

Victoria and Albert Museum


John Locke
Michael Rysbrack

Full Length Marble Statue.

The Public Advertiser 20 January 1757/8 states 'A fine statue of that great and learned man Mr Lock, who was educated at Christ Church, Oxon is finished by Mr Rysbrack, to be sent to that university'.

There is no record of what Mr Lock paid for the statue but there is a bill in Rysbrack's hand for the pedestal.

                                                                                                                                       Dr to
                                                                                                                        Michl Rysbrack Statuary
1759                                                                                                                                          £. s.  d.
May 21st   On an agreement for a pedestal of marble for the 
                  statue of the late learned John Locke
                  The Base and Cornice of vein'd Marble and the die
                   of Statuary Marble, for the sum of                                                                         32  0  0

                  ft.  in.
                 110  6  Superficial Christiana Deals, for Boxes for the 
                             Pedestal at 5d pr foot                                                                                      2  6  0

                 No. 38 Iron Cramps for to secure the Boxes at 4d each

                 Carriage of the 
                 Pedestal and Boxes to Oxford Weight 21 st. 3. 6                                                        3  13  6

                                                                                                                                         Total £38  12  2

Photographed by the Author.

This statue was very difficult to photograph given its position in the niche over the staircase

with grateful thanks to the Librarians at Christ Church college Library, Oxford