Saturday 16 January 2016

The Eighteenth Century Busts of Shakespeare - Scheemakers.

The Bust of Shakespeare c. 1736.
by Peter Scheemakers (1691 - 1781). 
and it's three Companion Busts of Dryden, Spenser, and Milton
at Hagley Hall, Worcestershire.
This would seem like a good place to add some information on the various busts of Shakespeare by Scheemakers, Rysbrack and Roubiliac to this blog, and although only tangentially relevant to the understanding of Rysbrack's statuettes of van Dyck, Rubens and du Quesnoy, this page and the following pages should hopefully assist in adding to the knowledge of the creation of the statuettes and their relationship with other historicising portrait sculpture of the mid 18th century.
 William Shakespeare.
White Marble Bust.
About half life size.
Height 46cms approx. with socle.
Peter Scheemakers (1691 -1781).
Hagley Hall. Worcestershire.
The busts of Shakespeare, Spenser, Dryden and Milton by Peter Scheemakers in the broken pediments of the bookcases in the Library at Hagley Hall were given to Alexander Pope by Frederick, Prince of Wales; they were subsequently bequeathed by Pope, who died in 1743 to Lord Lyttelton. They were in the Library in the new house at Hagley in 1747/48.
Some time after buying Carlton House in 1732, Prince Frederick had commissioned two sets of marble library busts from Peter Scheemakers, one set for himself - which seems to have disappeared and the second set as a gift to Alexander Pope.

A bill for £107 4s was examined by William Kent as overseer and paid 22 November 1735, included the set of busts charged at £10 each (Duchy of Cornwall Household Accounts) it is unclear whether they were for the library at Carlton House or for Kents magnificent saloon in the Rotunda in the garden, built in 1735  -  (adorned with paintings and sculpture - Grub Street Journal, 2 September 1735)
 Prince Frederick, William Kent and the Garden Building at Carlton House have already been touched on in my blog entry of 12 August 2015, see -

A voucher in the Royal Household accounts, dated 8th November 1735, details 'for four small marble Busto's delivered to Mr Pope at £10-10 each 42-0-0' The bill was examined by William Kent on 22 November 1735 and paid without deduction. A receipt in the sculptors hand was added one week later (Duchy of Cornwall, Household Accounts of Frederick Prince of Wales, Vouchers October 1736 - June 1737, vol. VI, part 1, pp 307-08
 Ingrid Roscoe (Walpole Society Journal) suggest that the gift to Pope was probably prompted by George Lyttleton, who was the secretary to Prince Frederick, an active member of the Whig opposition, and who fostered the friendship of Pope and Prince Frederick in the hope that Pope might have a democratising influence on the Prince.
The busts prompted a letter to Dean Swift dated 17 May 1739 9 'the Pr. shews me a distinction beyond any Merit or Pretence on my part & I have received a Present from him of some marble heads of Poets for my libraryand some Urnes for my garden' - (Correspondence of Alexander Pope ed. Sherwin 1956).
 Ingrid Roscoe says - that the busts are ' weakly characterised frontal portraits' which I think is being rather unkind to them. I suspect that she hadn't inspected them closely - compared with the portrait in the Royal collection attributed to John Cheere (to follow on the next page) they exhibit a much higher degree of subtlety.
Much of this information has been culled from Peter Scheemakers by Ingrid Roscoe, Walpole Society Journal, vol 61, 1999.
I am very grateful to Viscount Cobham for allowing me the opportunity to visit Hagley and to take these photographs. I would also like to thank to Joyce Purnell of Hagley Hall who facilitated the visit for me, showed me around and made my visit so enjoyable.
 Please forgive the quality of these photographs - I was very much restricted by the height of the bookcases, the availability of light and the lens on my camera. It is my intention to return to Hagley some time shortly, when the busts have been taken down and to take more photographs. In the short term these images will have to do.


Peter Scheemakers.
white Marble Bust
About half life size.
Height 46cms approx. with socle.
Library, Hagley Hall, Worcestershire

Peter Scheemakers
White Marble Bust.
About half life size.
Height 46cms approx. with socle.
Library, Hagley Hall, Worcestershire.
The use of the van Dyck collar should be noted. I believe this is its first appearance on an 18th century bust.

John Milton

by Peter Scheemakers.
White Marble Bust.
About half life size.
Height 46cms approx. with socle.
Hagley Hall, Worcestershire.
William Shakespeare
by Peter Scheemakers
White Marble bust c. 1743.
Trinity College Library, Dublin.

One of 14 Ancient and modern worthies which Scheemakers was contracted to supply for the Library at Trinity College Dublin. In 1743 £500 was left by Dr Claudius Gilbert, Vice Provost 'for the purchase of busts of men eminent for learning to adorn the library'.
I will write about the Trinity College Library busts made by Scheemakers with the assistance of Roubiliac from 1743 in the near future.
 Scheemakers Monument to Shakespeare of 1740 in Westminster Abbey.

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