Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Yale Marble Bust of Alexander Pope by Roubiliac


7. The Yale / Rosebery Bust of Alexander Pope by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

Marble, 19.2 ins. 
Eyes cut. 

Yale Centre for the Study of British Art. 

Signed and dated 1741.





Inscribed on the Left hand side ALEX. Pope nats. LONDINI, die 8 junii anno MDCLXXXVIII. Obiit in vico Twickenham prope Urbem, die 8 maii MDCCXLIV.

Inscribed on the right Anno Dom. MDCCXLI. L.F.Roubiliac Sc it. ad vivum.


This is the version of the bust most closely related to the Barber Institute Terra cotta bust described in the previous entry.
See Wimsatt, 61.1 page 244.



Although signed and dated ad vivum 1741, there is an inscription in the same manner, recording the death of Pope at Twickenham on 8th May 1744, suggesting that this bust was carved and completed posthumously but based on Popes sitting for the terra cotta in 1741. Pope visited the studio of Roubiliac in July of 1741, and reported to Ralph Allen in Bath on the progress of busts for his library.

See Popes Correspondence


According to tradition, this bust was commissioned by Lord Bolingbroke, who was a very close acquaintance of Pope, although as far as can be ascertained there is so far no documented proof of his ownership. It would seem that Bollingbroke spent most of his time in France between 1739 and 1743.






notes - There is another link, however between Lord Bolingbroke, Pope and Roubiliac:

10 February 1738/9. Roubiliac supplied plaster versions of busts of Pope and Bollingbroke to the Earl of Marchmont ( Victoria & Albert, National Arts Library, Ms 1578 - 1939. The Household Accounts of Hugh Campbell, 3rd Earl of Marchmont 1737- 1746. Press No. 1737-1746 National Arts Library).
Note - The Temple Newsam Marble bust is dated 1738 but the cutting of the hair is different to this bust - There are no plaster versions of the Temple Newsam bust that I am aware of.

There two other busts of Pope of unknown material possibly marble which have not been identified.

1. The Madame Boccage Bust of Alexander Pope. Busts of Pope, Dryden, Milton and Shakespeare were sent with 3 others to Paris in 1751 by Lord Chesterfield..

Mrs Esdaile makes a very good case that the four busts for Mme Boccage’s garden sent to France were Roubiliac marble busts. Mrs Thrale saw them in her drawing room in 1775

2.  Lord Bruce bust of Alexander Pope. Charles, Lord Bruce,Viscount of Tottenham, d.1747. -Tottenham Park, Wiltshire. Inventory of 14 Nov.1744. (10 poets heads on painted and gilt brackets, one ditto Mr Pope). Charles, Lord Bruce a friend of Pope, m. Lady Julianna Boyle, sister of Lord Burlington in 1720. Burlington provided plans for Tottenham Park between 1730-40. (drawings at Chatsworth). The fact that the Pope bust is particularly noted is instructive. Although not stated as a Roubiliac marble bust, he is the most likely candidate for its authorship. A gilt bracket from Tottenham Park is in the V&A.

I know of no other versions by Rysbrack or Scheemakers in any material which might be this bust. Of course it could have been a plaster version by Roubiliac.

Pair of carved wood painted and gilded corbel brackets from Tottenham Park and now in the V and A
Possibly designed by Lord Burlington or William Kent. Most likely the latter if supplied with the busts of poets.

Lord Bruce’s Papers are in the Ailesbury Collection at Wiltshire Record Office.Chippenham.

By repute this bust was then bought by Joseph Browne, of Shepton Mallet and sold before 1791; it then passed to James Bindley, was sold 1819, by Sothebys, to Watson Taylor, and again sold in 1832 to Sir Robert Peel, sold again in 1900 in the Peel Heirlooms sale for 510 Guineas to Thos. Agnew and Son, acting on behalf of the Earl of Roseberry.

Sold Sothebys 1990, £930,000. Now at Yale Centre for the Study of British Art, New Haven Conn. U.S.A.

Bronze attrib. to Roubiliac - 23.75 x 21.25 inches (60.3 x 54 cm)
Yale Paul Mellon Centre, They suggest c 1755. 


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