Tuesday 10 March 2015

The Plaster busts and Statuettes supplied to Arniston House, Midlothian, Scotland by John Cheere.

This post edited 7 October 2020

After reviewing these busts and figures itis now clear that most of the busts were not supplied by CheereMost of the 16 busts are now believed to have been collected in Italy by the second Robert Dundas II,(1713 - 87) also a Lord Presidents of the Court of Session, whilst on his grand tour in the 1730's when he was studying at Utrecht University, but the figure of Shakespeare after Scheemakers monument and the accompanying statuette of Hercules after the Rysbrack Hercules at Stourhead and the bust of Newton are later casts perhaps by John Cheere but given the subjects could be by Harris of the Strand or Robert Shout of Holborn.

 An undated but mid to late 18th century list from the Arniston Muniments, Bundle 171 (Small Volume) personal Accounts Book of R Dundas (1750 - 85) records 'the busts in the Library at Arniston'

 Sir Isaac Newton        Diogenes

Aristotle                      Lucretia

Nero/supposed            Zeno

Jeron                           Antinous

Vestal Virgin               Solon

Homer                         Socrates

Cuero                          Euripides


Info from Architectural Heritage, vol 12, 2001. Pat Wigston

 The attribution of the figures of Shakespeare and Hercules and at least the bust of Newton to Cheere is based on the fact that work on the the Library refurbishment commenced in February 1756, when the alterations were made to the joinery and paint work and the busts were cleaned under the supervision of Edinburgh Wright George Stevenson. Stevenson had worked for the Dundas family since the 1730's at their town house in Edinburgh, at Ormiston Hall in Lothian and at Arniston. The Library was repainted by James Norrie the Edinburgh house painter who invoiced for £14 14 8d for painting the library in "oil white" for March and April 1756.  Norrie also gilded he capitals in library in1756.

see -



Original post -

Although, as yet I have not been able to discover any paperwork to confirm, it can be safely assumed that these busts and statuettes were supplied by John Cheere in the 1740's for the old library at Arniston House, which was designed in the late Baroque style by William Adam (1689 - 1748), for the Scottish lawyer Robert Dundas.

                                    Shakespeare Statuette after Scheemakers, Homer and The Farnese Hercules.  

Possibly Pythagoras
Veiled Vestal and Cicero.
Zeno, Madonna, Nero.

Edit - the Madonna is based on St Susanna by Duquesnoy in Santa Maria di Loretto, Rome.

Possibly a cast by Cheere
Roman General there is a version by Roubiliac at the Huntington Library California, Zeno perhaps after Scheemakers.
Demosthenes, Isaac Newton and Agrippina.
Unknown classical? Female bust, Socrates, undetermined male bust.
Aristotle, unknown female bust, Antinous.
I am very grateful to Henrietta Dundas of Arniston House for supplying these images.

For the History of the Dundas Family and Arniston see -


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