Saturday 1 August 2015

Queen Caroline's Hermitage at Richmond and the 5 Marble Busts by Giovanni Battista Guelphi (1690 - 1736)

Queen Caroline's Hermitage at Richmond.

Drawing of Queen Caroline's Hermitage at Richmond by its designer William Kent.
Soane Museum. London.

Queen Caroline's Hermitage -

Detail of above engraving.

Frontispiece drawn by Gravelot and engraved by du Bosc, 1735.

The mezzotint engravings of the five busts below -

Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2015.

An engraving of Richmond Gardens by John Roque c.1738, pub. by John Bowles at the Black Horse Cornhill. When Queen Caroline received Richmond Lodge as a dower house in 1727, she immediately engaged in the creation of one of the earliest English landscape gardens. This map provides us with a detailed layout of the estates of Richmond and Kew (owned by Frederick, Prince of Wales) and elevations of buildings and follies, such as Queen Caroline's Hermitage and Merlin's Cave, most of which were lost in the remodelling of the garden by 'Capability' Brown shortly after 1771 when he drew up the plans. see map The Royal Gardens of Richmond and Kew part of the Royal Manor of Richmond. Taken under the Direction of Peter Burrell Esqr his Majesty's Surveyor General, by Thos Richardson 1771.    
Size - 58.1 x 91.1 cm (sheet of paper).   

 Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2015.

Detail of the Map above showing elevation and plan of Queen Caroline's Hermitage at Richmond.

Drawing of Queen Carolines Hermitage in Richmond Gardens
by Bernard Lens III (1682 - 1740) c.1735.

Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2015.

A low resolution image of an as yet unidentified engraving.

It shows a bust of Queen Caroline flanked by two busts (Locke on the left) in an interior decorated with shells with an elevation of the Hermitage at Richmond beneath her bust with putti on the right holding a drawing of a plan and section of the Hermitage.

Crop from Image above.


Interior of Queen Caroline's Hermitage Engraved by John Vardy
From - Some Designs of Mr Inigo Jones and Mr William Kent, 1745.

The Hermitage at Stowe designed by William Kent.


The Busts by Guelfi in Queen Caroline's Hermitage - Mezzotints by John Faber Jnr. c 1736.

Above - Engravings of the Marble busts by Giovanni Battista Guelphi
in Queen Caroline's Hermitage at Richmond engraved by John Faber. C.1736. 

Printed for Thomas Bowles in St Paul's Churchyard and John Bowles at The Black Horse in Cornhill.


Marble Bust of William Wollaston (1659 -1724) by Giovanni Battista Guelphi (1690 - 1736).

Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2015.


Marble Bust of John Locke (1632 - 1704) by Giovanni Battista Guelphi (1690 - 1736).

Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2015.

Marble Bust of Isaac Newton (1643 - 1727) by Giovanni Battista Guelphi (1690 - 1736).

Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2015.

Marble bust of Samuel Clarke, DD, (1675 - 1729) by Giovanni Battista Guelphi (1690 - 1736).

Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2015.

Marble Bust of Robert Boyle (1627 - 1691) by Giovanni Battista Guelphi (1690 - 1736).

Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2015.

Guelphi - An Italian sculptor, he spent a long period in England where he enjoyed the protection of Lord Burlington, the ‘architect earl’ for about 14 years.

Guelphi worked in Rome in the workshop of Camillo Rusconi (1658  -1728), lived in Rome with his brother Carlo from 1714 until 1720 (at the Casa della Monache di Milano from 1716). 

John Bridges (notes for History of Northamptonshire in the Bodleian Library) met Guelphi at Easton Neston on 18 July 1721 and describes him in his notes as from Bergamo, Lombardy.
info - Giometti - The Sculpture Journal  (see below).

George Vertue’s short account of the sculptor in 1734, which suggests an irritation with the Italian’s imperious manners, provides the best insights into the English phase of his career.

'Signor Guelphi. Statuary. Sometime wrought under Cavalier Rusconi. Statuary of great reputation at Rome, from thence Lord Burlington encouraged. or brought him to England. he was sometime at Ld Pomfrets Eston Northampt imployed. repairing the Antique Statues. Arundel Collect. Afterwards Guelphi was much employed for many years. by Lord Burlington. in his house in London. & made many statues for his villa at Chiswick. being much continually almost employed bty him for several years. also several busts. he much commended him to the Nobility for an excellent sculptor. procured him many works to that of the Monument of Sec Craggs Westmint Abbey. he left England in 1734. after residing near 20 years. went to Bologna. a man of slow speech much opinionated. and as an Italian thought nobody could be equal to himself. in skill in this Country. yet all his works seem to the judicious very often defective. wanting spirit and grace. its thought that Ld Burlington parted him very willingly'. (my italics).

By the 4th August 1732 these busts had been placed inside the hermitage and suitable inscriptions were being sought as the Gentleman's Magazine had reported -

'Her Majesty having built a fine grotto at Richmond and adorned it with bustos Mr Locke, Sr Isaac Newton, Mr Woolaston an Dr Clark: it has been recommended to all the fine genii of two universities, and the schools of Eton and Winchester, and all the learned to compose a proper Latin inscription'.

The London Journal 26 August 1732 reports -
' The grotto or hermitage which her Majesty hath made at Richmond or, rather the bustoe's with which she has adorned that little rural temple, sacred to learning and virtue doth not reflect more honour on the memories of the deeds than glory on herself: for Locke, Newton, Clarke and Woolaston, were the glory of their country: they stampt a dignity on human nature: they were all well skilld in those arts which naturally tend to improve and exalt the mind, mend the heart or reform the life.

27th January 1733 The Weekly Miscellany published
'With inward grace more polite
The vaulted dome attracts the sight
Where as in disputation stand
For worthies from the sculptors hand
The chisel has such justice done
They reason and confute in stone'.

In February 1743 the bust of Boyle was set up in the place of honour, on a pedestal designed by William Kent in front of a golden sun, in the exedra in the Hermitage.

Sylvanus Urban pen name of Edward Cave (1691 - 1754) editor of the Gentleman's Magazine, April 1733, wrote,

'The 4 busts so often mentioned stand in niches at each quarter in the walls of the vaulted dome... but the bust of Mr Boyle stands higher than these on a pedestal, in the inmost and as it were the most sacred recess of the place; behind his head a large golden sun, darting his wide spreading beams all about and towards the others, to whom his aspect is directed. To the dome is an iron door by which you enter, on each side of it an apartment to which are iron rails; and each of these compartments is capable of receiving more busts'.

Edward Curll in The Rareties of Richmond: being exact description of the Royal Hermitage  and Merlins Cave...... 2nd edition 1736, describes entering the Hermitage -

' The entrance to this pile is adorned with a range of iron palisades finely gilt. A person attends to open the gate to all comers Upon entering you behold elevated on high, a very curious busto of the Honourable, and justly celebrated Robert Boyle Esq; incompassed with rays of gold And on each side of him below are Sir Isaac Newton, Mr Locke, Dr Clarke and Mr Woolaston....'

It was believed for a long time that the busts were by Rysbrack but Balderstone finally puts the argument to rest .

George Virtue had quoted in his manuscripts a statement to that effect by William Arnall who had published it in the Free Briton - it is firmly refuted in the Grub Street Journal Thursday 6th September 1733.

' an indigested heap of fly blown tautologies... there are several historical mistakes, and one egregious blunder which overturns his whole panegyric, and entirely destroys the reputation of his judgement in the art of statuary. For, in order to do honour to Mr Rysbrack, he has attributed to him
the bustos in her majesty's grotto; which unfortunately happen to be the work of another, and as some think a much inferior hand', (my italics).

So that clears that up!

Jonathan Swift Wrote on the Hermitage -

A place there  is, t'was purchased cheap
Thanks, Ormond, thy undoing
And there  they  build a mind heap
For all they build is Ruin!
Three holes there  are, thro which you see
Three seats  to set your Arse on
And idols four-, of wizards three
And one unchristian parson
in praise of Clarke (observe  the  joke!  )
writes ev'ry bard and gown
And Locke's the theme of courtly folk
who loved nor court nor crown.


Stone Bust of Isaac Newton by Guelphi at Scone Castle.

This bust of Isaac Newton was bequeathed to William Murray, Lord Mansfield by Alexander Pope and is currently at Scone Castle.
Guelfi had a real problem with necks


Bust of Boyle at the Royal Society of Chemistry. 

Bust of Robert Boyle now with the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Formerly with the Chelminski Gallery, Kings Rd, London.

Sold in 2002 or shortly after.

This bust has no provenance, although the gallery believed it to have come originally from Chiswick House, the Palladian villa of Richard Boyle, Third Earl of Burlington, I can find no references to it.


The four terracotta busts by Guelfi in the Will of William Kent.

Will 17th October 1743 -

 I give and bequeath unto my friends hereafter named as follows....unto Lady Catherine Pelham the head of Edward Vi a busto.... My Lord Lovell (Thomas Coke) Inigo Jones and Palladio busts with wooden Terms .... unto Mr Brian Fairfax the two bustos of Shakespeare and Butler ..... to Lady Isabella Finch four heads bustos  Newton Clarke Lock and Woolaston to Mr Thomas Brian - Milton and Dryden Bustos with wooden terms to Mr Alexander Pope, Raphael head busto and the wooden term and the alabaster vase. To Mr Thomas Ripley the busto of Michael Angelos with wooden term.

Codicil, 10 April 1748 ....

I give and bequeath unto the right honourable Earl of Burlington my two Sienna Marble Vases enriched with vine leaves and grapes ... also the model of a sitting girl (by Mr Rusconi (Guelfi's master)... I also bequeath unto the right honourable the lady Isabella Finch my veined alabaster vas with brass ornaments .... gilt with vine leaves & together with my four models of Newton Locke Wollaston and Dr Clark.... unto his grace the Duke of Devonshire my statuary marble boar....unto his grace the Duke of Grafton the model of his late majesty (George I).

This codicil was written four days before his death.

Kent was at that time building the house at 44 Berkeley Square for Lady Isabella Finch.

As far as I know these 4 busts are still missing.


The notes on this page build on the excellent research of Gordon Balderston, published in Vol 17.1 (2008) in the Sculpture Journal p. 83 - 'Giovanni Battista Guelfi: five busts for Queen Caroline's Hermitage in Richmond'.

For more on Guelphi and his early life and his restoration of some of the Arundel Marbles collected by Thomas Howard 2nd Earl of Arundel (1585 - 1646), these marbles had been aquired by Ist Lord Fermor from the Duke of Norfolk in 1691Guelphi was employed by Thomas Fermor, Lord Leominster at Easton Neston by July 1721 see -

Giovanni Battista Guelphi: New Discoveries. The Sculpture Journal Vol.3, 1999.


Samuel Clarke by Jean Dassier. 1733.

Medallion of Samuel Clark
Bronze 43 mm
By Jean Dassier.  1733.
Rev: A student ascending a rocky path to the top of a mountain toward Truth pointing toward the radiated name of Jehovah, in Hebrew - QUO VERITAS VOCAT. (Where Truth Calls)

Notes - Dr. Samuel Clarke (1675-1729) was a theologian, mathematician and philosopher. He was educated at Caius college, Cambridge, where the philosophy of Descartes was the reigning system. Clarke, however, mastered the new system of Isaac Newton, whose views he helped spread. He chose to ground his opinions upon the result of his own researches, and, entering deeply into the study of religion and natural philosophy, to proceed in the path in which, he thought, the Truth called him to walk. In a lecture, published as A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God, Clarke attempted to prove the existence of God by a method "as near to mathematical as the nature of such a discourse would allow". In another on A Discourse Concerning the Unchangeable Obligation of Natural Religion, he argued that the principles of morality are as certain as the propositions of mathematics and thus can be known by reason unassisted by faith. These and similar views spurred vehement controversy among his fellow theologians. (Eisler)

Images and notes courtesy the excellent website of Ben Weiss.


Samuel Clarke (1675-1729)  
Charles Jervas (c. 1675-1739)
c.1729 / 30.
Oil on canvas | 128.2 x 103.0 cm

Dr Samuel Clarke is known today as a footnote to Alexander Pope’s line ‘Nor in a hermitage set Dr. Clark’ (‘Epistle to Lord Burlington’, l 78), which criticised Queen Caroline for including Clarke in the company of Newton and others in her Hermitage at Richmond. In fact Clarke was a distinguished theologian, scholar, philosopher and natural scientist, who studied with Newton and corresponded with Leibniz. In his theological works he attempted to defend Anglican doctrine in a rationalist manner, making him an influential enlightenment thinker. Queen Anne made Clarke one of her chaplains in Ordinary and in 1709 he was made rector of St James’s Piccadilly. Queen Caroline’s admiration for him is demonstrated by the Hermitage and by this painting, with its eulogistic inscription written by Benjamin Hoadley (1676-1761), which was hung at Kensington Palace. Clarke is shown with a bust of Newton, below which are arranged four books: Bacon’s ‘Essays’, Boyle’s ‘Lectures’, Newton’s ‘Principia’ and ‘Optica’ (presumably Clarke’s Latin translation of his ‘Opticks’).

NB. A bust of Isaac Newton in the right background.

Notes and photograph from the Royal Collection Website -

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