Friday 22 January 2016

The Victoria and Albert Museum Terracotta Bust of Shakespeare by Michael Rysbrack and the Engravings of Shakespeare.

A Terracotta Bust of William Shakespeare.
By Michael Rysbrack.
Victoria and Albert Museum.
Height: 57 cm, Width: 50 cm, Depth: 26 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum.
This bust is assumed to be the model for the stone bust of c.1743 in the Temple of British Worthies at Stowe, Buckinghamshire.
Given by Mrs M.A. Miller, Anglesey House, Isle of Wight in 1924 in memory of her father Augustus William Rixon, to whom the bust had previously belonged.
A business card for E.W. Field, Dealer in Antiques and Works of Art, 28 Union Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight, was found amongst the papers relating to the objects offered as gifts to the Museum by Mrs Miller, and may indicate he acted as an agent for the donor.
This bust is directly derived from either the engraving by George Vertue or Gaspar Duchange of the original by Benjamin Arlaud (see below).
The Teddesley Hall Terracotta bust of William Shakespeare by Michael Rysbrack.
For Sir Edward Littleton (disappeared).
One of eight busts of British worthies - three now being in the National Maritime Museum - made by Michael Rysbrack for Sir Edward Littleton, for Teddesley Hall, his new house near Stafford (now demolished), which he was furnishing in the neo-classical style.
 They comprised four pairs: Raleigh and Bacon (SCU0005), Shakespeare (disappeared) and Pope (now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), Cromwell (SCU0014) and Milton (Fitzwilliam), and Newton and Locke. Lord Hatherton (the Littleton barony dating from 1835) consigned these - excluding Shakespeare - and other Rysbracks that his ancestor had purchased, with the related Rysbrack letters about them, to Spink's for exhibition and sale in July 1932.
 Spink's related illustrated catalogue by Mrs Arundell Esdaile ('The Art of John Michael Rysbrack in Terracotta') fully transcribes the letters and is otherwise comprehensive. She proposed that the undated one of Cromwell may have been the bust that Vertue saw in Rysbrack's workshop in 1732, which would make it the earliest. Old NMM record cards identify that of Pope as possbly 1735 and in the NPG ( wrong - in the Ashmolean with Milton); Milton as 1738, now at Stourhead (based on Rysbrack's Westminster Abbey monument and another bust done for William Benson) (wrong it is in the  Ashmolean as is the bust Alexander Pope); Newton (1739), now at Trinity College, Cambridge; Locke (1755?) in the Royal Collection.
That of Shakespeare is unlocated but the V&A has one that may at least be a version.
 Raleigh and Bacon were conceived as a pair and the most expensive at 25 guineas each, though the sources for the Raleigh are not certain and it was not started until the Bacon had been sent off in June 1757: the others were all 16 guineas. These two, with the bust of Cromwell, were purchased for the Museum at Spink's by Sir James Caird. In 1930 he had already bought from Hatherton, and also through Spink, Hogarth's portrait of Inigo Jones (BHC2810), which Sir Edward Littleton had commissioned as another British notable.
Info from National Maritime Museum -

see -

William Shakespeare
Life Size Stone Bust 1743.
Michael Rysbrack
Temple of British Worthies
Stowe, Buckinghamshire.

Engraving by George Vertue.
 Despite the inscription it appears to be Vertue recycling his original engraving of 1715 of the Shakespeare monument in St Mary's Stratford.
Inscribed - Done from the original in the possession of Robert Keck of the Inner Temple Esq. The'Chandos portrait', now in the NPG, which was first recorded when it passed from the collection of Robert Keck to his cousin, Francis, on the former's death in 1719.
George Vertue, writing on the Chandos Portrait in 1719 records -
'The picture of Shakespeare ('the only' crossed out) one original in Posesion/ of Mr Keyck of the Temple. he bought for forty guinnea/of Mr Baterton who bought it off Sr W. Davenant. to whom it was left by will of John Taylor. who had/it of was painted by one Taylor a player and painter contemp: with Shakes and his intimate friend. The name 'Richard Burbage' is crossed out in the margin. (later insertions in bold.
 Mr Betterton told Mr Keck several times that the / Picture of Shakespeare he had, was painted by one John Taylor / in his will he left it to Sir William Davenant.& at / the death of Sir Will Davenant - Mr Betterton bought / it & at his death Mr Keck bought it in whose / now is (1719 in the margin)'.
Despite this there is still some doubt - Davenant is known to have embroidered his relationship with Shakespeare for his own ends
For a fuller discussion on the subject of this portrait see -
Searching for Shakespeare, Tarnya Cooper, Yale University Press. 2006


William Shakespeare
Engraving by Gaspard Duchange (1662 - 1757)
After Benjamin Arlaud (1670 - 1731).
180 x 115 mm.
The BM says after Arnaud's version of the Chandos portrait;
A closer inspection reveals that it is very close to the George Vertue engraving of 1721  of the monument in St Mary Church Stratford upon Avon.
This Illustration to Theobald's edition of the 'Works of Shakespeare'. 1733.
British Museum.
It appears that this engraving was derived from a retouched plate of 1709 used in the Nicholas Rowe (1674 - 1718) 6 volume edition of the works of Shakespeare published by Jacob Tonson. Rowe became Poet Laureate. 
For a downloadable article written on the Arnaud/ Duchange engraved portrait see
 Frontispiece to Rowe's Shakespeare  1709.
Engraving by van der Gucht.
British Library.


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