Saturday 18 January 2014

Scheemakers Marble Bust of Alexander Pope

The Peter Scheemakers bust of Alexander Pope circa 1737.

              At Yale, Paul Mellon Centre for British Art.

with London dealer Cyril Humphris in 1972. Height 24"

               Peter Gaspar Scheemakers, 1691-1781, Flemish, active in Britain from ca. 1720.

This bust is unsigned. 

Ingrid Roscoe in Scheemakers - Walpole Society Journal, 1998 / 99, suggests this was the bust in the library in the collection of Dr Richard Meade, at 49 Great Ormond St. Sold Auction Sale - 11 March 1755, Lot 63, bought by General Campbell.

It is just possible that this is one of the busts made for Queen Caroline's library designed by William Kent. It was a new building that had been added to St James's Palace shortly before her death, in 1736-37; indeed, she had the use of it for only a month.

Note See - For The Kings Pleasure. Hugh Roberts. N.599. Jutsham III, Deliveries pp.179-87.

Perhaps this bust entered the Royal Collection in the mid eighteenth century and was originally supplied to Queen Carolines Library. There is a design by William Kent in the Soane Museum Vol. 147 / 198 with this bust and seven others, circa 1735/6.

Note -  Bull? Boyle, Spencer Pope, Virgil Shakespeare, Locke. Info from Stephen Astley, Soane Museum, October 2002.

The Library has since been demolished, to be replaced by Lancaster House, but a picture of it survives:

Queen Caroline's Library, from W. H. Pyne, The History of the Royal Residences (1819).

Scheemakers first known set of library busts was for Richard Mead, who ordered heads of Shakespeare, Milton and Pope for his home in Great Ormond Street, London around 1734.

A big thanks to Yale University, Paul Mellon Centre for British art for allowing free availability of its excellent images of Pope by Scheemakers on line.
see -

Notes. A cast of a bust of Pope was sold in Scheemakers sale in 10 March 1756, Lot 21.

A life size stone bust is in the Temple of English Worthies at Stowe. part payment made to Scheemakers in Stowe Accounts 13 Dec. 1737 for an unspecified bust.

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