Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Roger Warner's bust of Alexander Pope

2. The Roger Warner Bust of Alexander Pope 
by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

This bust is one of the two second type of the three types of Roubiliac busts of Pope.

 The other being the Milton / Lord Mansfield Bust with which it should be compared (details to follow).

Probably Lot 76, 4th day of the sale of the contents of the Roubiliac studio at St. Martin's Lane. 


above The Milton / Lord Mansfield  bust of Alexander Pope by Roubiliac ad Vivum, 1740.

The Roger Warner Bust of Pope - some notes.

Marble, Eyes uncut, on black marble, square tapered socle. 

With Roger Warner, Oxfordshire, April 2001. Sold Sotheby's London 2009, with London dealer Philip Mould January 2014.

Perhaps one of the three busts of Pope noted at Pope's Grotto at Twickenham in the late eighteenth century. (See the following notes on Pope's Grotto)

See Wimsatt, 59.4 pages 240 & 241.

This bust is not in good condition. There are some very peculiar, deeply cut runnels on the top of the head where water appears to have been dripping for a very long time. There is a deep channel on the left hand side of the head - an attempt has been made to polish this out and much of the face appears to have been re - polished.

It also appears to have been cut from a piece of Marble that was either slightly too small, or it was specifically made to locate into a niche and then left unused. There is an approximately 3” square unfinished patch on the back of the head .

This bust is closely related to the Milton / Fitzwilliam bust. The form of the curls of the hair is almost exactly the same.

The small square tooling marks under the base of the head are also unusual but are similar to some chisel marks on either side of the central prop of the back of the Milton/ Fitzwilliam bust in the following list of signed Busts of Pope by Roubiliac.

There are however some distinct similarities with the Seward bust, especially with the cutting of the hair around the unfinished patch at the back of the top of the head.


It is possible that this was the small head from Popes villa at Twickenham. installed by Lord William Stanhope in the 1770’s. and described as being over the entrance to Stanhopes cave in 1789. and removed at some time in the 19th Century. This might explain the water erosion on the surface which would have taken many years to etch into the marble.

Bought by Roger Warner in 1963 from the sale held by Brookes of Oxford, at Buckland House. Buckland, Nr Faringdon, Oxfordshire, which had been occupied by Fitzgerald Family, since 1920’s. It is unlikely that it was originally at Buckland.

Buckland was formerly the home of the Throckmortons (an ancient Catholic family) built by John Wood the Younger of Bath.

In 1690, the year of the Battle of the Boyne, Sir John Yate of Buckland died in Paris. He was succeeded by his sister Mary who soon afterwards married Sir Robert Throckmorton. The Throckmortons were an old Catholic family with estates in Warwickshire and north Buckinghamshire, and Sir Robert spent little time at Buckland.

Buckland House was then home of Sir Maurice Fitzgerald, The Knight of Kerry.

For Buckland House see Country Life CXII, Aug 1970. pp 495/ 497.

See also English Country Houses Early Georgian 1955 p.204.


Although the evidence is circumstantial it is quite possible that both the Seward and Warner busts of Pope were bought by Thomas Hudson at the Roubiliac sale in May of 1762

Esdaile, Page 171, says ‘ Hudson, as we learn from J.T. Smiths ‘Life of Barry’ owned numerous models by Roubiliac, which mostly had been purchased at that artists sale and had been left by Hudson to a gentleman, (Mr May his nephew) who resided many years...... in his home at Twickenham.

Thomas Hudson ( 1701 - 79). Portrait painter, Master of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Joseph Wright of Derby. Hudson was also a dealer in works of Art and bought widely at the Roubiliac Sale.
Hudson along with Arthur Pond accompanied Roubiliac on a brief visit to Rome in 1752. They met Joshua Reynolds at Mont Cenis on his way back from Italy.

Hudson lived and worked at Great Queens Street, Lincolns Inn Fields, later taking an apartment at King St, Covent Garden.

Hudson had a house at Cross Deep Twickenham from 1754 and was a next door neighbour of Sir William Stanhope, (brother of Lord Chesterfield) who owned Popes Villa and grotto, later inherited by Welbore Ellis.

His collection was dispersed by Langfords of The Piazza, Covent Garden in 1779 and 25 & 26 February 1785 by Christies. See Smith, Nollekins....

Sir William Stanhope, d.1772, younger brother of Phillip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, (who sat for Roubiliac in 1745), bought Popes villa after he died from the Vernons in 1745. He built a wall around the garden, added wings to the villa and built another grotto with a bust of Pope above the entrance (see following notes). Passed to Welbore Ellis (created Baron Mendip - 1794) in 1775.
Stanhope was a member of the Monks of Medmenham as was Paul Whitehead and John Wilkes who both sat for Roubiliac.

Pope's Thameside Garden at Twickenham by William Kent.

Some notes on the busts of Pope at his Villa Grotto at Twickenham particularly relevant to the Warner bust.

This information from Journal of Garden History Vol. 26, No.1. Alexander Popes Grotto in Twickenham.
By Anthony Beckles Willson.

1775. In the journal of exiled American loyalist Samuel Curwen of Salem, Massachusetts, entry for 25 August 1775: At Welbore Ellis’s seat late Mr Popes we alighted and..... entered the gardens and grotto; the latter being arches under the middle of the house, about mans height, admitting a prospect into the largest shady contemplative walk in the garden from the river. It is almost 5 foot in width, faced with small flint stones, crystal and some other kinds stuck into mortar, with the angles out...... 2 or 3 niches filled with the busts of Pope and I forget who else...... Wimsatt Supplement 57-61.13.

See The Journal of Samuel Curwen, Loyalist. ed. Andrew Oliver 2 vols. Cambridge Mass. Harvard University Press 1972.

 John Searle  ‘Plan of Mr. Pope’s Garden’ (1745)

This transcription below taken directly from Bodlian Library copy:

Journal and letters of ... Samuel Curwen, 1775-1784. To which are added, biographical notices of... By Samuel Curwen, George Atkinson Ward (1842). Page 37.

August 23 1775. Visited Wellbore Ellis seat at Twickenham, formerly Pope’s; the grotto, being arches under the house about a mans height, admitting a prospect into the longest shady contemplative walk, five feet wide in the garden), filled with small flint stones Bristol and other kinds in mortar: a few pieces of glass on the top and sides: two or three niches filled with the busts of Pope and others: there is also in a cross alley a statue of Terrance and in an addition (made by Mr Stanhope late owner), over the centre of an arch is a niche filled with a bust of Pope, and underneath are the following lines.

The humble roof; the gardens scanty line
Ill spoke the genius of a bard divine:
But fancy now display a fairer scope,
And Stanhope’s plans unfold the soul of Pope.

The World (12 October 1789) ‘ the grotto has little to boast, beyond the purpose of a passage that avoids cross accidents & joins two gardens, which the road otherwise had put asunder. Popes decorations of the grotto are a little bust of himself & a pretty mirror - you see his mind too, in the inscription over it.

The Topographer’ 1789 reprinted in S.Felton. Gleanings on Gardens 1897. An abbreviated version of the full description is in the seventh, 1794 edition, of a Guide called The Ambulator. Both publications mention statues of Ceres and Bacchus and a bust of Pope in the Grotto. There was also a white marble bust of Pope over the entrance to Stanhopes Grotto.

The Ambulator, 8th Edition, 1796, page 267, bust of Pope mentioned as being situated in an aperture in the rock of Popes grotto at Twickenham. Wimsatt Supplement 57-61.13.
London: Being an Accurate History and Description of the British Metropolis and Its Neighbourhood... By David Hughson 1805, page 496, mentions – In two adjoining apertures in the rock are placed a Ceres and a Bacchus, an excellent bust of Pope, and some other figures.

The works of Alexander Pope. Containing the principal notes of drs. Warburton and Warton [&c.].... by the Rev William Lisle Bowles, 1806, page LV11 mentions in the grotto “the other recess opposite is adorned with busts of Milton Pope etc both recesses are diminutive”

The Richmond and Twickenham Times supplement. 4 August 1888. notes statues of Jesus and Mary ‘while that on the right is devoted to a bust of Pope himself ’. This bust appears in a contemporary photograph and is not of the Roubiliac type. (see Daily Graphic 2 Nov 1907).


The Journal of James Jenkins. 1777.

I have discovered an unremarked, and intriguing reference to three busts of Pope at the former Twickenham residence of Alexander Pope, in Records and Recollections of James Jenkins. written in 1777 page 110 &111, which I found in the Library of the Society of Friends at Euston Road, London.

Next morning with uncommon pleasure, and anxious curiosity, I bent my way to the muses seat at Twickenham having been for many years an admirer of the writings of Pope I viewed with downright enthusiasm the last place of his abode, on the banks of his native Thames, Popes house at this time was inhabited by Wellbore Ellis Esq. Afterwards Lord Mendip (Wellbore Ellis, Lord Mendip, 1713 - 1802, was a useful member of many ministries, holding numerous offices including privy councillor, Secretary of War, Treasurer of the Navy and Secretary of State for America.) I saw but little of it -- the gardens and shrubbery I viewed leisurely -- they are much larger than in Popes time - Sir William Stanhope ( d.1772 brother to the Earl of Chesterfield) having purchased the whole premises added two wings to the house, and made considerable alterations in the garden at the termination of the old and commencement of what has been added, was a vaulted passage of thirty feet long, and seven feet high, and on the front wall is a marble bust of Pope, with the following lines written by Lord Nugent, ... (who served as Lord of the treasury and President of the Board of Trade).

The humble roof, the garden’s scanty line,
Ill suits the genius of a bard devine;
But, fancy now displays a fairer scope,
And Stanhope’s plans, unfold the Soul of Pope.

In the passage on the right hand was a bust of Sir William, another of Pope, and a third of the then late Earl of Chesterfield, the celebrated Phillip Dormer Stanhope (1694 - 1773). (this bust noted as being marble in the Topographer in 1789. It also notes a bust of the daughter of William Stanhope.) I next viewed the far famed Grotto, and cannot describe the feelings with which I was affected, upon the recollection of the following lines.

Thou who shalt stop where Thames translucent wave
Shines a broad mirror thro, the shaddowy cave
Where lin’ring drops from mineral roofs distill,
And pointed crystals break the sparkling rill
Unpolished gems no ray or pride bestow
And latent metals innocently glow;
Approach . Great nature studiously behold!
And eye the mine without a wish for gold
Approach: but awful! Lo! Th’ Aegerian grot
Where nobely pensive St John sate, and thought
Where British sighs from dying Wyndam stole,
And bright flame was shot thro’ Marchmonts soul.

The last two lines I purposely omit quoting -- if I dare I would call them poetical nonsense -- every man “dares” to love his country, but no man “dares to be poor”. I suppose this grotto is now no more, great delapidations had then been made; many pieces of spars, gems ores and other minerals and even the common flint pebbles had been picked out and carried away, and thus it is as Shenstone sings,

The pilgrims that journey all day
To visit some far distant shrine
If he bears but a relique away
Is happy, nor heard to repine.

In two adjoining apertures of the rock; were placed a Ceres a Bacchus, an excellent bust of Pope, and some others.....”


 View of Grotto by Samuel Lewis. 

A Bust at Popes Villa Grotto is illustrated in The Daily Graphic. Saturday 2 November 1907. This would appear to be a mid 19th century plaster bust, somewhat loosely based on the Scheemaker's version, and very similar if not the same as the version at the National Book League in 1965 which was inscribed D.Landi, 36 Charles St. (late) Leather Lane. 

This plaster bust is also related to the Gadge marble bust of Pope presently on loan to the Twickenham Museum. The Gadge bust has a turban whilst the Landi bust is bareheaded.

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