Monday 30 May 2016

Silvanus Bevan - Ivory Portrait Reliefs

The Ivory Portrait Reliefs of Silvanus Bevan FRS (1691 - 1765).
Quaker Apothecary and Amateur Sculptor.
I have already posted fairly comprehensive information on the family history of Silvanus Bevan and his home at Plough Court in Lombard Street in the City of London the former home of the family of Alexander Pope and his birthplace.
see -
Every so often events or the information superhighway require previously posted pages to be updated - so here is some more on the sculpture of Silvanus Bevan and a recently published photograph of the demolition of Plough Court.
Plough Court, Lombard Street, City of London. c. 1868.
Birthplace of Alexander Pope,
This photograph by William Strudwick (1834 - 1910) from the estimable blog
Strudwick was born in London in 1834 on Edgware Road and lived in Lambeth and West Dulwich. He acted as a photographic storekeeper at the Victoria and Albert Museum, but also worked as a draftsman, architect, and sculptor and wrote comic poetry.
Henry Cole, the founder founding director of the V&A, encouraged the purchase of Strudwick’s series of photographs titled Old London: Views by W. Strudwick. The series is around 50 in total and was purchased from the photographer in 1869. It documents the old cityscape, including the East End’s medieval coaching inns prior to their demolition to make way for the railways, and the riverside shortly before the construction of the Embankment. His views from the river banks show the traffic of steam and sail boats, barges and working warehouses. His street scenes are populated by tradesmen paused in their activities unloading barrels from horse- drawn carts and groups of Dickensian urchins staring at the camera. Strudwick’s project echoes other similar survey initiatives at this time which recognized photography as the quintessential medium to save from oblivion what was about to disappear.
In 1910, Lambeth Archives acquired a set of Strudwick’s photographs, the same year they he was admitted as a pauper to Croydon workhouse where he died.
Information from the Victoria and Albert Museum website.
Map of Langbourn and Candlewick Wards, London 1756.
Engraved by R. Cole, From William Maitland's History of London. 1756.
Showing the location of Plough Court (off Lombard Street).
My interest in Silvanus Bevan came from tangential research into the busts of Alexander Pope. A curious coincidence is that Bevan was an executor of the will of John Vandewall and a name that crops up in the life of his son, the very wealthy Quaker Merchant Samuel Vandewall (whose wife Martha gave a bust of Alexander Pope to William Seward), Bevan lived and worked at Plough Court, the former family home of Alexander Pope in the late 17th century, a further coincidence is that the family of Martha Vandewall went on to live at the Pope home, Whitehill House at Binfield, Berkshire.

The Silvanus Bevan Ivory Reliefs.
Sold at Bonham's Auction Rooms London, Lot 105, 19th November, 2014.
Middle - Dr Henry Pemberton (1694 -1771). Physician and mathematician- friend of Isaac Newton and Dr Richard Meade, Gresham Professor of Physic in 1728 edited the Fifth London Pharmacopoeia from 1739- 1756. This relief was lent to Wedgwood for reproducing by Samuel Moore in 1778.
Right and below  - Dr Richard Mead (1672 - 1754).
For more on the iconography of Dr Richard Mead - again reproduced by Wedgwood see
 Right - Possibly Sarah Duchess of Marlborough.
Top Right - Dr John Woodward
See Wedgwood reliefs.
Bottom middle - Sir Edward Hulse (1682 - 1759), Physician to George II made baronet in 1739.
This relief lent to Wedgwood for reproduction by Samuel Moore in 1776.
Top Left - David Barclay
Top Right - Dr John Woodward (1665 - 1728).
Below Right - Timothy Bevan (1704 - 1786) and his wife Hannah (d.1784).
From Bonham's Catalogue Entry - Provenance:
It is recorded in the Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain (1660-1851), that thirty busts and reliefs carved by Bevan remained in the possession of the family until 1880, when the collection was dispersed. However this reference may be incorrect, or perhaps the collection was dispersed to another family member, as it is sold with a letter from Paul Bevan, a descendent, to J.H. Braithwaite, dated 20th March 1903 which states:
'Dear Sir,
I am sending on 25 ivories by Silvano Bevan born 1691 (m. Elizabeth Quare). I need scarcely say that I value them exceedingly and shall be obliged by your not letting them be sent anywhere by post. I shall be very eager to hear what your father says of them, I am yours faithfully Paul Bevan. When can I call for them?'
The current owner reputedly purchased them directly from a descendant of Bevan.
Many of the reliefs appear to not have been completely finished by the carver, with the curls of the wigs and draperies not being fully worked or carved in very high relief. For this reason perhaps these remaining carvings were those that Bevan was not as pleased with and so were not sold or given away; or perhaps he was still working on them when he died in 1765.

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