Saturday 18 July 2015

Jonathan Tyers and his bust by Roubiliac.

The Busts of Jonathan Tyers (1702 - 1767),

by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

(updated 3 August 2023).


Interesting image from the V and A website probably taken in the 1920's showing the extent of the damage to the body.


Victora and Albert Museum.

The lumpy socle is a replacement.

They suggest a date of 1738.

This terracotta and the marble version in the Birmingham Museum were almost certainly commissioned by Tyers himself.  The two busts were recorded in the possession of the Tyers's grandson, and then passed by descent to the Reverend Jonathan Tyers Barrett of Brandon House, Suffolk.
The busts were sold at the Brandon House sale in September 1919.
The purchaser at this sale was Mr R. Levine of Norwich, whose son, Mr G. J. Levine, sold the terracotta to the V&A in 1927 for £50. 
The marble bust was sold at Sotheby's on 24 June 1927 (lot 77), but in 1956 it was acquired by the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery from Sabin, a London dealer.

From a cursory inspection of these photographs (I have yet to examine the original) it is my guess that this marble bust might have been outside and exposed to the weather for a prolonged period. It has then been repolished. This would explain the somewhat generalised features and the high gloss appearance - the unfortunate result of a rather overzealous "restoration".  


Bust of Henry Streatfield
by Roubiliac

Photograph by the author.
There is an intriguing terracotta bust of Henry Streatfield (1679 -1747) in the Streatfield Mausoleum in St Marys Church, Chiddingstone Kent first pointed out to me by Matthew Craske in 2000.

It is inscribed on the socle H.S. Aet .60. 1739. The modelling of the clothing is extremely close to that on the bust of Jonathan Tyers. It has buttons on the waistcoat which are missing on the Tyers terracotta but can be clearly seen on the marble, indicating that there should be no doubt that the marble bust of Tyers is by Roubiliac.

The Terracotta Bust of John Ray in the British Museum.

Once again Roubiliac uses the same basic form for clothing on this bust of John Ray as on the bust at the Tyers and Streatfield busts. There is yet another variation of this clothing on a terracotta bust by Roubiliac of Alexander Small (d.1752) on a monument to James Andrews at St Marys Church, Clifton Reynes in Buckinghamshire. 

The monument is attributed to Scheemakers by Malcolm Baker (see below) I have not inspected this monument or seen photographs and this information needs to be confirmed. There is no mention of it in Roubiliac and the 18th Century Monument by Baker and Bindman Yale, 1995 or in Peter Scheemakers by Ingrid Roscoe in the Walpole Soc. Journal 1999.

Note: - this info from The Making of Portrait Busts in the Mid 18th Century: Roubiliac, Scheemakers and Trinity College Dublin. Malcolm Baker.
There are several other examples of the duplication of the clothing on Roubiliac busts, such as the bust of Plato at Trinity College Dublin and various busts of Alexander Pope, the bronzed plaster bust of Nicholas Hawksmoor c. 1735/6 in the Buttery at All Souls College, Oxford (a plaster bust at Christchurch Spitalfields) and the marble bust of William Wither d. 1733 at Wooten St Lawrence, Hampshire - these last two traditionally attributed to Scheemakers but perhaps by Roubiliac working under  Scheemakers. The Clifton Reynes and Wootton St Lawrence monuments along with the busts at Trinity College Library would suggest a close working relationship between Roubiliac and Scheemakers in the mid 1730's - I will return to the subject in due course.
It has been suggested that this is because Roubiliac used the same basic moulds for the bodies and draperies of these busts where the clay is pressed into the mould taken from a prototype clay model, and the head modelled and applied separately, it is equally possible is that he used some sort of pointing machine. 

John Ray.
Marble Bust.
Wren Library, Trinity College Cambridge.


Jonathan Tyers and Family by Francis Hayman 1740.

National Portrait Gallery.

77.8 x 106.2 cms - purchased 1983.

Note the small bust of a man with  turban on top of the continued chimneypiece.

Jonathan Tyers with his wife Elizabeth, his sons Jonathan and Thomas, and his daughters Margaret and Elizabeth.


Portrait believed to be of Jonathan Tyers with his daughter Elizabeth and her husband John Wood.

Francis Hayman. c1750 - 52.

With Frame 118.1 x 104.1 cms.


Margaret Tyers daughter of Jonathan Tyers senior with her husband the Welsh amateur painter George Rogers and his sister Margaret who was to become Mrs Jonathan Tyers junior.

By Francis Hayman. c. 1748 - 50.

Size 104.1 x 99.1 cms.


Margaret Tyers and her husband George Rogers.

Painted by Francis Hayman c.1748 - 50.
Size 90.2 x 69.9cms.

Jonathan Tyers shown second on the right.

Engraving by George Bickham the Younger, 1741.

19.7 x 32.5 cms.

The central group is taken from the Adieu to Spring Gardens from Bickham's Musical entertainer.

Satire? on Vauxhall Gardens and its habitu├ęs, the central group copied from sheet 49 of the Musical Entertainer (see 1880,1113.5469). On the left, the book-keeper (perhaps named Block) points to his account sheet saying to the proprietor, Jonathan Tyers, "Your tickets, Sir, are all brought in/By Bunters full of filthy Gin" to which Tyers, leaning backwards, responds "Z-ds! Tis a damnable Disgrace/T'admit such in this noble Place" while holding out his left hand to deter John Lockman, a hack writer, from dipping into his pocket; Lockman holds a scroll and pen and says, "...and then/I'll puff and write, and puff again". Behind Lockman stands Edward Dawson, proprietor of the Vauxhall Glass Works, holding a drinking glass in one hand and his hat in the other, saying, "And to illuminate each Tree,/More Lusters you may have of me."; an elderly chaplain holds out his knife and fork; Robert Walpole turns towards the viewer, pointing to a gentleman on the right, says, "My Lord Bal[timo]re's very fond/But I think he'd better Abscond". In the centre, Frederick, Prince of Wales, sits at a table labelled "33" with another man and two women; he gazes at one of the women while she turns towards one of two gentlemen approaching from the right (evidently Lord Baltimore) and says, "My Lord I'll do't"; a waiter with a badge lettered "33" leans towards the other woman. In the right hand foreground, the master of ceremonies looks out at the viewer, saying, "Such Company". Groups of well-dressed men and women stroll in the background; many lamps illuminate the walks and the orchestra stand. lettering on the trees advertises beef, ham, horseradish and oil at high prices. On either side figures of horn-playing women emerge from the rococo frame. May 1741

Etching with stipple.

Engraving and description from British Museum Website.

Bickham Musical Entertainer.

The same group appear again in this engraving by George Bickham.

Bickham repeating the pose of Tyers in The Musical Entertainer, 1736 - 40.

A fine quality reproduction of this engraving can be purchased -

 Senesino the Castrato Opera Singer.

Departed from England in 1736.


Engraving by George Bickham the Younger believed to show Jonathan Tyers. 

British Museum.

For the Will of Jonathan Tyers see -

For more of Bickham's engravings from Bickhams Musical Entertainer see -

For Prince Frederick and Vauxhall Gardens and its political meanings see -

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